USA Won't Have Home Ice Fan Support At WJT

From: Buffalo Business First

The Buffalo Sabres could earn between $10 million and $12 million in ticket revenue from the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, which begins in three weeks. But the crowds will be heavily pro-Canadian as large numbers of tickets have been sold across the border.

The tournament, which features 31 games between the worlds 10 best junior national teams, runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

As of last week, the club had sold 11,800 of the 12,000 all-session ticket packages to HSBC Arena, which are available for $493, $833 and $1,250. The club has sold another 1,000 passes for the 1,800-seat Dwyer Arena at Niagara University, which will also host games. The club opened single-day ticket sales to season-ticket holders on Nov. 22 and sold 774 in a day and a half. The club also is selling single-, double- and triple-game packages.

According to team officials, 65 percent of ticket sales have come from Canadian buyers and, as reported in Business First, demand on the secondary market is rising.

This tournament is tantamount to the Final Four in basketball for Canadians, so for us being this close to Canada is huge, said Dan DiPofi, Sabres COO and minority owner. I dont think many NHL cities can appreciate the breadth of this tournament, but we can.

Last year, the tournament generated international buzz after the United States beat Canada 6-5 in a dramatic overtime game in Saskatoon, Canada to win the title.

DiPofi said he is confident the club will surpass its break-even number for the entire event, which is 75 percent capacity of the 18,690-seat HSBC Arena. He declined to give any estimated net profit from the event.

USA Hockey controls broadcast rights for the event, and is in the final year of a three-year partnership for U.S. rights with the NHL Network, which will carry the Jan. 5 championship game, as well as all American games and a select number of other games. TSN will broadcast the games in Canada, and will stream the tournament live. The website will provide online streaming to American viewers.

Also, two other Western New York communtiies Jamestown and Rochester will get a piece of the action by hosting pre-tournament games.

Buffalo beat out Minneapolis-St. Paul and Grand Forks, N.D., to host the 2010-11 event, which the IIHF awarded to the United States in 2007. Buffalos bid proposal for the tournament included an undisclosed ticket revenue share and a guaranteed $4 million payment from owner Thomas Golisano.

There was no question the [$4 million] was a factor in the evaluation, said Dave Fischer, a member of the bid evaluation team for USA Hockey. Were not yet comfortable with our hockey turnout to go to Dallas or some city in the South that cant support a two-week tournament.

The tournament has produced impressive revenue numbers for previous hosts. The 2008-09 tournament, which was hosted by the Ottawa Senators, sold 470,000 tickets and generated $14.5 million for Hockey Canada, $12.5 million of which came in a guaranteed payment from the Senators and the rest from shared ticket revenue. Senators President Cyril Leeder declined to disclose how much the team made from the tournament but said the tournament requires significant operations cost specifically in providing hospitality and transportation for 10 teams in two weeks. Despite the cost, Leeder said, the tournament was a financial success.

Its like hosting a major concert every day for 10 days, Leeder said. From an attendance point of view, its the biggest single-sport event you can host in Canada.


dggoddard said...

Another event that Colorado should eventually bid on.

Games could be held at Magness, World Arena and Ft. Collins with the big matches at the Pepsi Center.

puck swami said...

The Sabres offered USA Hockey a $4 million up front guarantee to win the bid. They knew they could get $10-12 million due to proximity to the Canadian border, and as it turns out, 65% of the tickets are going to Canada.

Colorado would sell out the USA games, but I doubt good crowds would show up for all the other games without the Canadian crowds in support, so I doubt USA hockey would select us,

They held this tourney in Boston in 1995, and it did very poorly at the gate, and Boston is a hockey city.

Seattle or Portland probably a good cit for this, as they have a history of junior hockey and proximity ot Canada.

The USA has yet to turn a profit on this event without close proximity to Canada....

dggoddard said...

If the USA continues to do well, the interest will build.

Anonymous said...

Dg, lay off the dope.