By Tim Fraser

It is no secret that sports teams, both professional and collegiate, look to make as much revenue as possible with ticket sales accounting for a majority of that revenue. A practice that has become the norm across the sports world is variable pricing, or where ticket prices are set based on possible demand.

Following in the footsteps of other National Hockey League teams, the Nashville Predators introduced a ‘premium-plus’ plan for the 2007-08 season that increased prices for games versus the popular Detroit Red Wings. With games against the Wings in previous years always near sold out, team executives were hoping to capitalize. But, with attendance at the first game of the year against Detroit nearly 3,000 less then capacity, the Predators decided to eliminate the price hike for the select games.

“Our ownership group is committed to filling the Sommet Center on a regular basis,” Predators’ President of Business Operations Ed Lang said in a press release. “While we recognize the need to increase our revenues, we want to do everything possible to have a sold-out building for the most desirable games and making tickets to those games more affordable helps us accomplish our goals.”

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The Predators move to drop their premium-plus plan has proven to be the exception rather then the rule. Rather then eliminating variable pricing more and more teams in baseball, basketball, football and hockey are adopting the practice.

“Its basic economics. When you’ve got a product that has a big demand like a matchup between two rival teams, the ticket price should be higher,” said Daniel A. Rasher, president of the sports consulting firm Sports-Economics, told the New York Times. “You have the potential of increasing ticket revenues by 20 percent to 30 percent.”

While the NHL only has a few teams who use variable pricing, baseball has seen a boom in “premium game” plans that call for fans to pay extra for games against big market teams or weekend games.

There is no doubt that fans of the Nashville Predators are happy with the teams decision the goal they set out remains the same, increase revenue. Currently ranking in the bottom third of home attendance, the team stands to benefit more from simply selling more tickets then increasing ticket prices.

Don’t expect the Predators move as sign of change in sports ticketing, as according to Rasher, variable pricing isn’t going anywhere. The public relations move made by the Predators may be a marketing move in itself.

“Franchises that don’t do it will try to use that as a marketing scheme: ‘We’re the only team in the league that doesn’t vary our prices,” he added.

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