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Sabres raise prices on season tickets

While saying their prospects are ready to bring the organization to its “next chapter,” the Buffalo Sabres have raised season-ticket prices in every section of the arena.

The organization sent invoices to fans this week, and increases vary from 3.8 percent to 6.1 percent for an across-the-board hike of 5 percent. The 44-game ticket packages range from $1,146 to $4,688, with fans paying between $1 and $5 more for each game to bring the totals to $28 to $112 per outing.

The increase comes after a second straight last-place finish by the Sabres, who have missed the playoffs in six of the past eight seasons. This time, the 30th-place standing was expected. Buffalo wanted to finish last in order to secure a top draft pick, and the team is expected to select star prospect Jack Eichel at No. 2 in June.

“When we made the decision to drastically overhaul our roster and undertake the process of rebuilding the Buffalo Sabres through the accumulation of a historic number of high draft picks, we knew it would require patience and commitment,” Sabres President Ted Black said in a magazine that accompanied the invoices. “These last few seasons have been challenging, but unfortunately there are no dramatic shortcuts to rebuilding through the draft.

“Everyone in the Sabres organization shares the thirst this community has for bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo and that remains our primary goal. It is our hope that you continue with us as we march toward that goal and keep the passion and dedication that makes our region such a special place.”

The Sabres had 16,000 season-ticket holders last season after achieving a renewal rate of 93 percent and adding members from their waiting list, which had about 3,000 names.

Since Terry Pegula purchased the Sabres in 2011, prices have risen 27.3 percent. Tickets in 300 Level IV have gone from $22 to $28, while 200 Level Club seats have jumped from $88 to $112.

A clause in the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement gives the team incentive to continually raise its prices. The CBA dictates that clubs that receive revenue sharing must keep pace with the league’s average ticket price. If the teams fall below 75 percent of the average, they “shall be required to submit to the league and Revenue Sharing Oversight Committee a forward-looking three-year business plan to establish a framework for improving its financial performance.”

The Sabres desire their piece of revenue sharing, hence the increase. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who do not qualify for revenue sharing, elected not to raise their ticket prices following a losing season.

The Sabres are continuing their practice of refunding part of the season-ticket cost in the form of a rebate card that can be used in the arena or at HarborCenter. The rebate was 6.5 percent last year to offset the price increase, but it has returned to its previous level of 2.5 percent.

The picture- and stat-filled magazine that accompanied the invoice was delivered as an enticement to renew. The cover reads, “Buffalo Sabres 2015-16: The Next Chapter,” and notes the Sabres are ranked No. 1 in prospects by Hockey’s Future and ESPN. The book contains profiles of Buffalo’s players with analysis by broadcasters Barry Melrose and Craig Button.

“As this process of building toward a championship continues, we are truly thankful to have your support,” Black wrote.

email: jvogl@buffnews.com

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