The average price of a ticket to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in the hours before the Boston Bruins and host Vancouver Canucks faced off Wednesday, June 15 was, by far, the highest in the history of StubHub.com.
The Sports Business Journal reported earlier Wednesday that ducats were going for $2,749 per seat, which was not only more than three times as high as the average price to last year’s Game 7 of the Cup Finals between the host Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins ($746) but also higher than the average ticket price for many recent Super Bowls.
And yet in Vancouver — where the Bruins blanked the Canucks, 4-0, to win their first Stanley Cup since 1972 and deny the Canucks their first title in the 40-year history of the franchise — the demand still didn’t come close to matching what happened in 1994, when ticket brokers fielded frantic requests from people from both sides of the continent.
Seventeen years ago Tuesday, June 14, the New York Rangers edged the Canucks, 3-2, in Game 7 to win their first Cup since 1940 and end the most famous drought in hockey history and, at the time, probably the second- or third-most famous dry spell behind perhaps only the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs in Major League Baseball. And with the Rangers playing at Madison Square Garden — which even back in the mid-90s catered to the rich and the richer — New York fans who wanted to see the Cup found it easier and less expensive to buy tickets for the games in Vancouver and fly across the continent.
“[There was] a much more east coast demand back in ’94,” Mario Livich of Vancouver-based ShowTime Tickets told TicketNews. “A lot of New York fans made it out to Canada because the market was so hot [in New York]. In Vancouver, it was cheaper to buy tickets and jump in a plane to Vancouver than it was to see a game in Madison Square Garden.”
The east coast demand for Vancouver tickets wasn’t as strong this year, though Jim Holzman of Ace Ticket in Boston said the business generated by the Bruins — always the fourth-most popular of the four major pro sports teams in the Boston area — rivaled that of the Red Sox’ latest trip to the World Series in 2007 and the Celtics’ trips to the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010.
The Bruins’ methodical yet nail-biting and suspenseful run to the Cup — they opened the postseason by falling behind two games to none in the Eastern Conference first round, won Game Sevens at home in the first round as well as the Eastern Conference finals and then outlasted the Canucks after falling behind two games to none in the Finals — helped build interest and drive the market.
Had Game 7 of the Finals been in Boston, the market likely would have shot to levels not seen since 2004, when the Red Sox came back from a three games to none deficit in the American League Championship Series to beat the New York Yankees before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to win it all for the first time in 86 years.
“Logistically, it’s very difficult to go from Boston to Vancouver,” Holzman said. “In terms of the demand for tickets for the Stanley Cup games [in Boston], it certainly was on par with the Red Sox in the World Series and the Celtics’ NBA Finals. The demand for the playoffs started two months ago and as the playoff games have gone by and the Bruins’ success has continued, interest has increased with the popularity.
“Out of a potential 14 [home] games, we had 13. It was very fortunate.”