The world junior hockey championship staged in Alberta in 2012 was the most profitable ever hosted, so you can only imagine how much one held in the densely populated corridor of Canada will be a licence to print money.
Or perhaps it is more calming not to think about it. Hockey Canada and the host committee believe sports consumers, albeit not necessarily the same people who watch major junior hockey games, are willing to pay the shot for what has become a tentpole eent in Canada on par with football's Grey Cup. It is not too surprising that the top ticket packages for the Toronto portion of the 2015 world junior might near $3,000. The average price is double the best seat in the house at an Ontario Hockey League game.
From Sean Fitz-Gerald (@SeanFitz_Gerald):
The top-end ticket packages are believed to be the most expensive in the event’s history. An email offer sent earlier in the month listed one package at $2,861, or about $150 a game in Toronto.
... In the email sent to members of a Toronto Maple Leafs mailing list earlier this month, the ticket packages were divided into 11 sections. The average price of all 11 works out to be about $80 a game — or more than double what it would cost to buy the best seat to watch the Oshawa Generals play at home.
... Calgary and Edmonton hosted the tournament two years ago, and it has been reported the most expensive ticket there was about $100.
“There’s no question it’s more money,” Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said on Friday. “But if you’re looking at premier events in this country, it’s not a lot. The demand has been there.”
He said the tournament in Alberta netted $22-million, and that, “we’d certainly like to hit that number again.” (National Post)
To think, when Connor McDavid's Erie Otters played in St. Catharines, Ont., last Thursday, the most expensive seat was $21 (all figures Cdn.).
It illustrates how much the world junior, when it is in held in Canada, has grown beyond the normal reach of junior hockey, which struggles for attention in the Toronto market. Patriotism and getting invested emotionally and financially account for the vast difference in price points. The world junior is also like an annual physical check-up for Canadian hockey — a gold medal is a clean bill of health and a sigh of relief; anything else means it's time for drastic, dramatic changes. (Never mind that two of the five consecutive gold medals Canada won from 2005-09 were by extraordinarily razor-thin margins.)
It creates a cluster effect that trumps any argument that someone could see McDavid play a dozen games for Erie for less money than it would cost to see him play one game wearing the Maple Leaf.
The secondary ticket market could also be very lucrative. Montreal and Toronto are also easier, even during to peak travel season, to reach than a city on the Prairies. That could also drive up the resale market if fans do the 'find a hotel first, tickets seconds' strategy.
The profits from the tournament fund Hockey Canada's national programs, and one-fifth of it goes to its 13 regional branches across Canada. Not all the tickets cost an arm and a leg; Hockey Canada told the Post "40% of the tickets will be available for about $40."
Junior hockey is far from the only sport where there's a wide gulf between what regular fans pay to attend games and what it costs to attend the event. Just listen to the stories of trying to get ducats for college basketball's Final Four. Would that the willingness to pay top dollar to support Team Canada would spur more people to peruse some CHL games, but the person who pays hundreds of dollars for a one-off event might not think that way.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.