The New York Islanders put tickets to the second half of their home schedule on sale to the public at 10am today. Remarkably, four games have already been listed on the team’s website as ‘N/A’, when asked about why that was, a ticket representative responded “because they are sold out”. You’ll never guess which four games those were. Three match-ups with the New York Rangers and the final regular season home game at Nassau Coliseum.
I don’t believe them. Not for one second. This reeks of a franchise holding its fans for ransom in an attempt to sell more ticket packages, and it’s just not right.
I can forgive them for the Rangers’ games, mainly because Islanders fans have had 43 seasons to see the Isles and Rangers face-off at the coliseum. It is always an event, and these last three will have added intensity for sure, but these aren’t one-time-only events. First and foremost the NHL is a business, and the team is well within its rights to attempt to sell their product in the way they deem most profitable for the franchise as a whole. Games against the Isles’ biggest rivals are always sellouts, so they are wise to attempt to exploit that fact to put a few more butts into the seats at other home games as well. Shrewd business for sure.
I do not feel the same way about the finale. Yes, all of the things I just said about the three tilts against the Blueshirts is also true about the final home game in the history of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It is a guaranteed sell-out and the team is wise, financially, to try to exploit that fact, but it comes off the wrong way. For Islander fans, the last game at the only home the team has ever had will be special. There is no way that every Islander fan will be able to make it to that last game, this much is obvious, but the organization should be doing everything it can to at least give those who love their team a chance to see them say goodbye.
If the team is going to use the last game as a marketing ploy to sell more ticket plans, which I fully believe is the case, they will alienate many, many people who may have been able to find a way to buy a ticket at face value for one game, but can not afford to shell out their hard earned dollars to buy seats to multiple games. That is a shame.
You can dismiss my skepticism as to the unavailability of seats to those games by pointing out that they are, without question, the four most sought after tickets in the second half and you’d be absolutely correct, but with the team not allowing season ticket holders to purchase seats to the Rangers’ games during the pre-sale and limiting them to only one additional ticket to the season finale, it makes me curious as to how they managed to sell out only those four games in a matter of minutes.
Tickets are available on the secondary market, but they will not come cheap. StubHub currently 3,206 tickets to the season finale, with prices starting at $102.98. Quite a mark-up from face value and an amount that will drive away many die-hards without the means to bring themselves and their family to a hockey game at that steep price.
The end of the Coliseum era should be a celebration for this fan base, not a marketing ploy. Since 1972, Isles fans have flocked to Uniondale to watch their team play; the last chance we get to do so should be a game that brings all Isles fans together to say goodbye to a team which ownership didn’t have the ability to keep in Nassau County, not one last chance to fill the organization’s pockets.