Yes, boys and girls, I mean that as a COMPLIMENT. I just got my STH invoice for 10/11 and at first blush, I was a bit taken aback by the jump in price. I sit in section 409 and currently pay $22 per game per seat. Next year will be $29. My initial reaction was something along the lines of, damn this is going to hurt a bit. A (nearly) 32% increase per game is no small amount. But then I started to think about what it all means.
The major reason why my tickets currently cost a pittance relative to the quality of the entertainment I receive on a nightly basis is because there were so few season ticket holders.
Mr. Leonsis Uncle Ted had to so incentivize the purchase of season tickets to get butts in the seats that the tickets were offered for next to nothing when compared to face value. I'm not going to pretend like I am a long time holder, preaching from on high. This is my first season as a STH. If anyone deigns to comment on my little post here(and its my first of any length here on the Rink, so please be gentle..and buy me a drink first ;), I'm not going to be completely stunned if I get the obligatory bandwagon insults. However, I remember going to games against the Flyers and the Penguins back in the day and there were more DBs in Orange and Black or Black and Gold than there were in White or Blue Black and Bronze. Sorry I'm only in my mid 20s I don't really remember the first incarnation of the Red, White and Blue days that well. I digress. The point is, Uncle Ted has transformed this team and more importantly this town. Not exactly a revolutionary statement on my part, but I believe that it bears repeating given the piece of mail that many of us received today.
I need look no further than the mirror to find a perfect illustration of that point. I'm sure to invite further derision by admitting this, but in my youth, I was merely a casual fan(gasp!). A big part of this was that I didn't get HTS until I was 12(1996) and my parents didn't know much about or care for hockey, so I wasn't indoctrinated in the art of puck as I was football and baseball. It was rare that I got to see a game on TV, much less go to the Capital Centre or the artist formerly known as the MCI center(though I did make occasional appearances). If someone had told me 7 years ago that I would one day be a raving Capitals lunatic, I'd have stared at them with a puzzled look. Truth be told, I had my doubts about GMGM's rebuilding effort. A large part of that had to do with the dishing of my favorite player from boyhood, one Peter Bondra. Hindsight being what it is, fantastic move, because who doesn't Laich Brooksie...but at the time, I was a sad panda. Then came the lockout, another year off. The Bondra disappointment spilled over into 05/06 and it took me awhile before I stopped flipping right through a Caps game. Then it happened. I just so happened to be watching on a certain night when a certain goal was scored against a stunned team from the desert. From that point, I've been hooked. Mr. Leonsis' forthwright ways and personable style, combined with one hell of an exciting product have only fueled the fire, but on that day, I first realized just what we had in #8, and I was in love.
It took much of DC a little longer than myself to come to that realization, and in no small part do we have Uncle Ted to thank for this. He and GMGM have worked tirelessly on fan relations as well as the on-ice product to change a lasting impression that this town had when it came to the Caps. There were empty seats in a STANLEY CUP FINAL in 1998 and now there's a season ticket wait list. The team and the town have come a long way, no matter what Mike Wise thinks. So while it will hurt my wallet and maybe cause me to consume a fewer number of brews when I venture down to the Verizon Center next season, I fully embrace the price hike on my season tickets. This isn't some cash mad owner trying to put the screws to us for every penny he can(cough cough, Daniel Snyder, cough cough). It is a valuation adjustment which appreciates the fact that due to low demand, the cost to season ticket holders was much lower than it could have been. Good for Ted, good for the Caps and good for the Team. This beer is for you, Mr. Lenosis. You have my sincerest gratitude for making me more fully appreciate a wonderful sport(and yeah, Ovie didn't hurt, but he'd be off skating somewhere else if not for you), and I enthusiastically click the ONLINE RENEWAL button from my email, price hike or not.
p.s. to anyone who actually read all this crap, thanks!