I'm a New York Rangers season ticket holder. The games are great, but I'm going to become a father in a couple months and the 300 section at Rangers games is not a great place to take a little kid. For example, last year I walked in the bathroom during a Rangers/Flyers game to find a guy wearing a Flyers jersey with blood gushing from his face. His buddy was shaking his head and saying, "Dude, I told you not to wear the jersey."
If I want to be in a section where I'd feel okay bringing my kid, it'll cost around $250 per seat. Think of it as the protection money you need to pay to ensure the safety of your family. Yes, the similarities between James Dolan and John Gotti go beyond just driving successful organizations into the ground.
So I was on the fence about renewing. Sensing me wavering, the Rangers sent a letter trying to convince me to re-up by explaining the benefits they provide to their longtime subscribers. Honestly, there weren't a lot of great enticements offered; subscribe for x years, get x% off at the team store. Not much that's really going to get you excited. One item did seem okay -- if you remained a season ticket holder long enough, they'd let you come on the ice for a photo. Not with any players, but it still would be a nice souvenir.
How long do you need to be a subscriber for this, you ask? Sixty years!
Yes, sixty years! The earth will circle the sun 195,000 times before you can set foot on the ice. Not to get all Al Gore on you, but will there even be ice in 2071?
Assuming Madison Square Garden doesn't raise prices over the next 60 years, I'll have to fork over more than $290,000 for my current seats. In all fairness, the amount may be slightly less as I'm sure a few of those seasons will be cancelled due to a lockout.
Someone who gets season tickets when they're 15, will be 75 before they can step on the ice. (By the way, old people love ice; I can hear the shattering hips already.) You get the photo at 75 and then you'll be able to treasure it for 1.4 years before U.S. government actuary tables estimate you'll die. What a deal!
The Rangers don't offer any benefits beyond the 60 years, so here are some suggestions:
70 YEARS Rangers keychain
75 YEARS Your name appears on MSG scoreboard! (Unfortunately, this'll occur during the Rangers 2-week west coast road swing)
90 YEARS "NAPKIN DAZE!" 2 free napkins when you spend over $50 at the concession stand during any afternoon game
100 YEARS A video of Mark Messier sobbing uncontrollably will be played at your funeral
There are a lot of annoying things about committing to season tickets. Paying full price for pre-season games; eating the cost of tickets when you unexpectedly have to work late; the drug dealer feel of meeting Craigslist strangers on a street corner to make a sale; midweek February games where you show up, but the team does not etc.
You'd think a sport that has to resort to a TV contract with Versus would realize their financial future depends on people coming through the gates. I have to believe the NHL needs its attendance more than the other three major sports. But in a Stubhub world it's easy to cherry pick the games you want.
So why get season tickets? Well, it's the same sucker's bet all fanship is based on -- wanting to be part of something. Hell, a couple years ago the Rangers' slogan was "I AM A RANGER!" It was printed right there on the special tickets that they only gave to subscribers.
So you get duped into thinking you're part of something. Then the obnoxious 60-year offer comes along to remind you that this is strictly a financial transaction. The thing you want to be a part of wants no part of you. The Rangers are a stripper and despite all the whispered come-ons, she isn't going to leave with you...or at least not for 60 years. I'm thinking about how that stripper's gonna look in 60 years and realizing it might be time to head home to my new family. So last Thursday I told my sales rep that I wasn't going to renew.
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And then on Saturday the Rangers went out and signed Brad Richards, this off-season's top free agent. How can I leave now? Dammit, one more lap dance and then seriously, I'm done.