When I came to Finland last year and found out that the 2012 IIHF World Championships would be held here, one could imagine my excitement. My goal was simple: Go to the bronze and gold medal games, as well as the games of countries with Red Wings players on their teams, if the Wings weren’t in the playoffs anymore.
The day single game tickets went on sale, I went online, Discover card in hand, to place my order. Moments later, my heart stopped.
Tickets to the Gold Medal game ALONE, in the cheap seats, were over €200, or around $260 American.
Once I made sure I wasn’t going into cardiac arrest, I decided I’d see the prices for a game that wouldn’t matter to anyone in Finland very much, like USA vs. Belarus. Though about half the price of the Gold Medal game, the €100 they wanted for that match was still more than I was willing to spend. Needless to say, I’m not attending any of the games, and I’m not happy about it.
I’m not alone in my frustration, though. A poll done by Iltalehti, one of the most-read papers in the country, did a poll where they asked readers if they could rationalize ticket prices for the tournament. 96% of the 13.7 thousand people that answered said they couldn’t.
Judging by the crowd shots I’ve seen on TV so far, the arena where these games are being held has looked about half full or less, except for the Finland-Belarus game. The only matches that have sold out are the Bronze and Gold medal Games, and a few of Finland’s matches. To put that all into perspective, Hartwell Arena holds slightly over 13,000 people, and is located in a city of about 600,000. The local hockey team that calls Hartwell Arena home, Jokerit, sold out almost all of their home SM Liiga playoff matches. The average SM Liiga ticket costs anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on the team and if it’s the playoffs, so why in the world is the IIHF trying to rip us off by asking between 5 and 10 times what we usually pay for tickets for games that may not even be relevant to the Finnish people? Even though we love our hockey just as much as Canada, we’re not Canada, and we aren’t going to pay Canada-style ticket prices.
The President of the Finnish Ice Hockey association, Kalervo Kummola, was quoted as saying,
“Those, who criticize the (ticket) prices, weren’t probably going to come and watch the matches”.
Well, Mr. Kummola, as someone who’s attended matches in the NHL, AHL, and SM Liiga, and who at one point held season tickets for two different AHL teams, I feel I’m the perfect example of you being wrong, and judging by the tournaments attendance, the polls that have been conducted, and the overall number of people complaining, the vast majority of Finland would have to agree with me.
*Update: Sweden has lowered ticket prices, Finland says they will not.