In a sports world where season-ticket price increases are an annual ritual, Buffalo Sabres fans had grown accustomed to 5 percent hikes the last two seasons. They'll be paying more than that this year.
The Sabres announced their season-ticket prices for 2012-13 Wednesday, and each seat will increase $2 to $8 per game. Fans in the 100 Level will feel the biggest jump. Tickets in the lowest level are rising as much as 12.2 percent.
There will be zero percent tolerance for smoking, however. The Sabres announced First Niagara Center and the surrounding property will be a smoke-free zone beginning Sept. 1. There will no longer be designated smoking areas outside the building.
Once fans get inside, they will have paid more for their seats. The largest per-game hike in terms of dollars is for 200 Level End, which will rise $8 from $75 to $83 (10.7 percent). The 200 Level Club is increasing $7 from $92 to $99 (7.6 percent).
Fans in the 100 Level will see the highest spikes in terms of percentage increase. The seats in 100 Level III are going from $41 to $46, a 12.2 percent bump. There is an 11.1 percent hike for fans in 100 Level II ($54 to $60) and 100 Level IV ($36 to $40). The 100 Level Preferred seats are rising from $69 to $74 (7.3 percent).
The cheapest seats in the arena (300 Levels III and IV) will be $25, up 8.7 percent from last year's cost of $23. The remaining upper level sections are also rising $2 per game, with 300 Level I costing $43 (up 4.9 percent) and 300 Level II running $32 (up 6.7 percent).
The smallest percentage increases are for rinkside seats. The tickets for 100 Preferred Rinkside are jumping 2.3 percent to $89, while 100 Level II Rinkside are rising 2.9 percent ($72) and 100 Level III Rinkside are up 5.2 percent ($61).
The Sabres say their average ticket price will be approximately $53. Last season, they said their average was $44.85. That totals an 18.2 percent hike.
The Sabres said the projected league average will be $75.
Season-ticket holders will be required to purchase three preseason games, up from two exhibitions last year. Prices are $25 to $10 per game.
The full ticket packages for the 44-game season start at $1,055 and go up to $4,134 per seat. Renewal packages will be sent via mail during the next week. A 10 percent deposit will be required by June 15. Season-ticket holders will receive a 2.5 percent rebate on their Sabrebucks card when paid in full.
The Sabres say they had 15,100 full season ticket holders and will release an additional 200 seats to members of their Blue & Gold Club waiting list.