by Erin DeBooy, @erindebooy
The National Hockey League’s Heritage Classic is coming to Winnipeg this fall, but if the price tag is too high, who will be able to go?
With ticket prices rumoured to be around $600 for a seat at both the alumni game and the Heritage Classic itself, the hottest ticket in town is also pricing most fans out of the chance enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The sky is the limit for what hockey fans will pay to see their favourites. We see it every season as Winnipeg Jet fans pay anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 for season tickets.
The NHL knows this and has made it a priority. Rather than celebrating Canada’s love of the game, they are catering to the deep pockets of hockey fans.
Winnipeg landing the Heritage Classic in itself is a big deal—it’s the first time Winnipeg will be hosting the game, and before such landmark cities like Ottawa and Montreal. It’s also the first time the Winnipeg Jets will be taking part.
However, it’s the big names being announced for the alumni game that’s getting people talking.
Wayne Gretzky will be the Oilers captain for the alumni game, positioned against Dale Hawerchuk for the original Jets team.
“We’re not as good as we used to be, but it’ll be a lot of fun,” Gretzky said in a video message from California, adding his line up could include former Oilers Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Dave Semenko, and Mark Messier.
The Jets line up announced so far is equally as impressive, including Teemu Selanne and Bobby Hull. Hawerchuk has also been dropped names for a potential line up, including Paul Maclean and Brian Mullen.
Getting the chance to see these players hit the ice again is exciting on its own, but being able to see the past rivalry of the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets reignited is something fans might never get to see again.
This resonates not only with die-hard hockey fans. These names—Gretzky, Selanne, and Hull—are part of growing up Canadian. If you play hockey, you want to be them. If you don’t play hockey, you still know they’re the best.
And because it’s such a big deal, the alumni game can reach beyond the regular hockey audience, drawing in people who may not be interested in Heritage Classic normally, but are interested in seeing the legends play.
But with ticket prices set as they are, interest in seeing the legends play, and actually being able to go to the main game, are two different things.
Hockey isn’t cheap –Winnipeg has some of the highest per ticket prices in the NHL. But expensive and unaffordable are two different things.
The Heritage Classic is squarely situated in the latter.
Despite these high prices, some fans have already voiced their excitement for the alumni game on Twitter.
Updated to include social media response at 1:36
Updated to include audio component at 1:53
Updated to include photo of IGF
Updated to fix grammatical error
Feature imagine is ‘Sunset Hockey’ by TAZphotos on Flickr. Used with permission via CC BY-SA 2.0