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Hockey's Back: Ticket Prices Remain the Same

With the NHL lockout ended this past Sunday, more than a few journalists on national news sites and on ESPN have stated that there is a great deal of fan outrage and discontent, and that it will take a lot of coaxing and cajoling to woo fans back to the games.

But if Buffalo Sabres fans and customers were hoping for substantial price rollbacks on tickets or other financial incentives, they might be disappointed.

Tuesday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, Sabres President Ted Black and General Manager Darcy Regier held a press conference to update the media and the public as to the latest that is going on both on and off the ice as the team prepares to raise the curtain on the 2012-2013 season.

After issuing an opening statement apologizing to the fans for the labor strife and the disruption of play, Black reported that interest in season tickets and demand for tickets remains strong. “We had 50 cancellations during the off-season, and an additional 30 tickets were cancelled during the lockout. We don’t know what the circumstances were of those later cancellations; they could have been due to relocation or, unfortunately, someone passing. Nonetheless, we have a season ticket account base that is 15,500 strong, and an additional 3,000 are on our waiting list.”

Black indicated that prices for 2013 tickets will remain the same as the prices that were unveiled in June and July of last year. That means that season ticket holders can expect to pay anywhere from $25 (300 level-IV) to $99 (200 club sides) per seat, per game for the truncated 24-game home schedule. The team has been communicating with its season ticket holders throughout the lockout and has been offering rebate checks for unplayed games or four percent interest for any customers who have kept money on account with the team. It is expected that the Sabres will make final account settlements with its season ticket holders once tickets are printed and distributed and the season gets underway.

Also announced: The Sabres will introduce variable pricing for single tickets once the schedule is announced. Games are designated as platinum, gold, silver, bronze, or value games depending on the night of the week and the quality of opponent. Ticket prices will range from $29 to $113 for value games at the low end, and from $80 to $240 for platinum games at the high end. Black promised that the designations will be made as quickly as possible once the schedule is unveiled.

As to the schedule, play is expected to resume on Saturday, January 19. Black has not seen a schedule draft yet, but got a peek at some of the planning going on, and revealed that it is likely that the team will open the season on the road, then open the home schedule on January 20 at the First Niagara Center. He stressed that this is still speculation. He also indicated that because of the huge logistical issue of printing and distributing tickets to 15,500 season ticket holders and a good number of mini-pack subscribers, fans might be getting their ticket blocks in stages.

Taro Sez…

• The Sabres are interested in bringing back Jochen Hecht, who apparently is past his concussion issues and has been playing well on the first line of his hometown Adler Mannheim team in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Regier will be speaking to Hecht’s agent soon.

• The story out of Quebec that Sabres first draft choice Mikhail Grigorenko will definitely play the rest of the season with the QMJHL Quebec Remparts is “absolutely false.” Grigorenko will be in the Buffalo camp and be given the opportunity to earn a job with the big club. “He’ll get the chance to skate with players who are NHL calibre players and get the feel for what it’s like,” said Regier.

Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno have finished their playing time for the Rochester Americans and are expected in training camp.

• Ted Black also revealed that everything is on schedule pertaining to the exciting new Harbor Center development, with groundbreaking due to take place in March. Keep in mind, though, that the transfer of ownership of the property from the City of Buffalo to the Sabres has not been finalized, but Black said that should be settled very soon. As to other hiccups, perhaps an out-of-left-field environmental lawsuit? “Won’t be a problem. That’s not how the Sabres roll,” said Black.

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