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To Buy or Not To Buy? This is the Question.

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An open letter to Atlanta Thrashers.

My name is The Falconer and I'm an NHL addict. I've been a season ticket holder since season three and I've been buying tickets for games since season one.

The Thrashers have played something like 650+ games in their history (counting playoffs and pre-season games) and I have watched something like 97% of those games in person or on television. There was a lot of ugly hockey in those 650 games so clearly I'm an addict.

So far this is good news for the Atlanta Thrashers because they are in the business of selling NHL hockey games. The truth is that I'm addicted and I'll continue to buy even if the price goes up. Here is the bad news for the Thrashers: Clearly I am going to buy hockey tickets, but based upon my experiences the last several years it no longer makes economic sense to buy a full season ticket anymore. Again, the question is not IF I buy tickets, but WHEN I buy them.

Let's consider the known facts. I could renew my season tickets and save some money relative to the face value price or I could buy a half season or smaller package that covers many of the weekend sell-out games and just buy heavily discounted single game tickets on weeknights. Right now I would come out ahead by taking the second option.

The Atlanta Thrashers have tried hard to get more fans in the building on weeknight by discounting tickets greatly--I understand the reasons for doing that. But at the same time they have discounted tickets to such a degree and with such regularity that they have undercut the value of purchasing full season tickets.

Now I'm sure that the guys at Atlanta Spirit are rational business people since they all have accumulated more money than I have. If anyone can, they should understand the logic of a person trying to maximize the value per dollar spent. Right now the short term discounts offered by the team over the last few seasons have de-valued the season ticket product so that a rational person is better off not buying in for the long haul. Again, it is not a question IF I will buy tickets, but WHEN, and right now the options presented by the Thrashers are pushing me (a rational person) to buy later.

On the other hand, if the Thrashers were to announce that they would limit the number of discounted weeknight seats that might change the equation. Or if the Thrashers would guarantee that Season Ticket holders will get upgrades on nights when non-season ticket holders can get heavily discounted seats that might also swing the needle back towards the "buy in advance" side. Or if the Thrashers restored the $99 or $199 extra seats for week night games so could invite friends and family to attend that might change my decision (if you're trying to fill the stands let me pick who gets to sit in the cheap seats). Or if I were offered coupons for concessions that might also change the equation.

But right now, as it stands the season ticket package is not as attractive as the non-season ticket package--and that's a bad thing for hockey fans and a bad thing for the Atlanta Thrashers in my opinion.