Stadium Experience Rant: Enough is Enough

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I hadn’t been to the TD Garden in Boston since last year’s 2013-14 NHL season.  I was lucky enough to receive some Bruins tickets for this past Christmas and made the trip to the Garden twice in the last two weeks.  I’ve had some of the greatest times I’ve ever had inside the TD Garden, watching Carey Price and Tim Thomas go toe-to-toe at center ice, Marc Savard come back from a concussion to score the game winning overtime goal in the playoffs against Philadelphia, and more.

However, the last couple of visits, regardless of the outcomes of the games, were overshadowed by the absolute ridiculousness of the prices and what seems like lack of respect for their patrons.  As ticket prices have gone through the roof since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, so has everything else making it harder and harder for even a single guy like myself to enjoy a game in the live stadium atmosphere, never mind a family.

As a man of legal drinking age I will admit that I like to kick back with a couple adult beverages as I watch a hockey game.  Now I know that actually going to a stadium will cost me a premium in buying said adult beverages but that is the price you pay for doing business.  Last season the TD Garden charged $8.25 for a single beer.  Paying more than $8.00 for a Budweiser, or similar, is a little excessive if you ask me, but it is a price that I can swallow, so to speak.

Beer prices are now $8.50 for a 12oz beer and the newfound “Large” beers are $10.50 for 16ozs.  That isn’t the price across the board, however.  I will point out that I found a standalone beer cart selling Sierra Nevada, seasonal and pale ale, for the low, low price of $9.75/16oz.  However, if you want to make one stop for food and a 16oz beer be prepared to spend closer to $20 than $10.

What are you getting for these rising prices?  The TD Garden opened a brand new pro shop this year, though good luck actually affording anything inside.  There are also plenty of new concession options for the fans.  Among these options is a new signature burger, The Big Bad Burger, seafood options at The Boston Common, a bar area with all your favorites on tap and hot shaved-meat sandwiches at the ultra-low price of $16.00.  All these luxurious renovations have to be paid for somehow and I guess that is just another perk to being a fan.  Simply trying to make it all back on $200+ jerseys and $80 banners out of the pro shop isn’t enough I guess; in comes the concession mark-up.

I guess this could all be part of an experiment to see what the breaking point is for the fans.  How high can they jack the prices before the fans simply stop buying the products?  For me they hit it.  Not only that, all their new renovations are missing the mark for me as a fan.

Do you know what I would love to do as a fan?  I’d like to go to a game, get a beer and a hotdog for $10 or less.  How about a slice of pizza and a soda without taking out a mortgage?  You know what my first thought isn’t when going to a game? Where can I get a micro-brew and a lobster roll?  Oh good, they have a bar area to stand around and drink overpriced beers before and after the game instead of getting them across the street for a fraction of the price.  I don’t need a “FanZone” where I can sign up for a newspaper subscription to get a T-shirt or get on a time share mailing list to get a rally towel.

Maybe it’s just my demographic (late 20’s, early 30’s male) but these just aren’t the things I’m looking for in a stadium experience.  I shouldn’t have to cancel plans for the next two weeks because I spent too much on going to a game, or compromise my experience, that the stadium is trying to enhance, by not participating in the things available to me.

Right now I feel like my loyalty and support to a team that couldn’t give tickets away at times is now rewarding me by pricing me out of my fandom.  My only hope is that the TD Garden starts to meet me in the middle somewhere over the next few years.  However I think the real way I’m going to be able to start enjoying and affording the stadium experience is to get a second job.

 

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