Birds are chirping. Flowers are rising from the ground. Sabres season-ticket prices are going up.
All three have become annual rites of spring.
Season-ticket holders began receiving invoices for next season in their mailboxes Thursday, and once again the price of being a Buffalo fan has gone up. The increase is about 4 percent across the board, with the largest hike in 100 Level II (4.48 percent) and the smallest bounce in 300 Level II (2.78 percent).
The prices for next season will range from $29 to $116 per game, with the full package running from $1,217 to $4,820. Ticket-holders will be charged for 41 regular-season games and two preseason contests (one fewer than this season).
The cost of seeing a game in First Niagara Center has skyrocketed since Terry Pegula purchased the Sabres in February 2011. A season-ticket holder sitting above the faceoff circle in the Sabres’ zone in 2010-11 paid $51 per game. Next season, the price will be $70 – an increase of 37.3 percent.
The price increases from 2010-11 to 2016-17 range from 26.9 percent to 41.2 percent.
“Our team improved in many areas this year, leading to more wins, closer games and excitement on the ice,” John Sinclair, the Sabres’ vice president of tickets and service, wrote in a letter that accompanied the invoice. “We expect that progress to continue toward our long-term goals next season.”
As usual, fans will receive 2.5 percent of their season-ticket price back in a SabreBucks rebate card to be used in First Niagara Center or HarborCenter. Season-ticket holders will also get a free ticket to see a minor-league game featuring the Rochester Americans in First Niagara Center.
The Sabres, who will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, have used a clause in the collective bargaining agreement to justify their repeated increases. 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.”
However, NHL teams that have missed the playoffs in recent years have declined to raise their prices. The Toronto Maple Leafs stayed flat this year, and the Calgary Flames announced earlier this month they will not raise next year’s prices.
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Rollie Cyr, the Flames’ VP of sales, ticketing and customer service told the Calgary Sun. “We’re not blind to what’s going on in our economy. We’re looking after the consumer who has been our partner for a long time. Being a good corporate partner and citizen is important.”