Penguins season ticket holders express frustrations over Winter Classic tickets

The Pittsburgh Penguins this week sent out invoices to season ticket holders for the 2011 Winter Classic that will be held at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011.
According to Pens contacts and ticket reps, if you have lower level tickets at Consol Energy Center, you were assigned Heinz Field lower level seats, while ticket holders with upper level seats at Consol were assigned 500 level seats at Heinz Field.

For example, I have a pair of seats in section 109 at Consol and was assigned section 128 at Heinz Field for the Winter Classic.
Meanwhile, Consol Energy suite, loge, and club seat holders are seated in Heinz Field club seats, according to Pens contacts.
A difference from the last time that the Penguins participated in the event is season ticket holders for the road team have now been assigned tickets.
According to a Pens ticket rep, in 2008 the Penguins were allocated only 5,000 tickets for the Winter Classic in Buffalo.
While one Penguins ticket rep called the Washington Capitals getting 10,000 + tickets just a rumor, it has been confirmed that all Capitals suite and club seat holders as well as all full and partial season-ticket accounts have been assigned seats for the event.
For getting the Capitals to participate in the game on the road, Capitals ownership demanded an allotment of over 12,000+ tickets.
As for the price, majority of lower level seats for the event in the 100 and 200 sections cost $149.00 + an $11 service charge. Upper level seats in the 500 section cost $129.00 + $11 service charge, while seats (532-537, 508-513) going from yard line 10-to-10, nearly the length of the field are $139.00 + an $11 service charge.
The first five rows of all upper level seats (500 section) cost $149.00 + $11 service charge.
The difference in price between a lower and upper level seat is only $20 for most seats. Therefore, to no surprise, there has been some outcry from season ticket holders who have been assigned 500 level section seats for the classic.
While opinons vary and we polled just a small sample (30+ season ticket holders), fans are upset over the process. However, it should be noted that this is an NHL event.
“I found out today, that I have to pay full price, $140, for a Winter Classic ticket and as luck would have it, I get to sit on an aluminum bench, ” one unhappy season ticketholder told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com via email. “My section is in the upper level North endzone. I’m paying the exact same amount as people in the upper deck that have chairs.”
Where some fans appear to be upset is with how far back they are and the no advance warning on the payment. Full Payment from Penguins season ticket holders are due on August 25th.
One season ticketholder I spoke with yesterday has seats in section 203, row K at Consol Energy Center. He was assigned section 513 at Heinz Field, which will be a similar sight line but was assigned row Y, more than 20+ rows back. When asked about being so far back, he was told there’s nothing the Penguins can do at this time when it comes to re-locations.
One STH expressed her frustrations to us via twitter: “What blows my mind is that a $29 seat at Consol translated to a $140 seat at Heinz — 3 weeks to pay, no advance warning, the season ticket holder told us via email.
Some disappointment from fans is that the Penguins or NHL didn’t allocate enough lower level seats to give all Penguins season ticket holders the first opportunity to purchase lower level seats since the prices are very similar.
“I’m definitely disappointed in my seat location as a full season plan holder – sec 533 row V, a season ticker holder told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com via email.
“I have no objections to Capitals STH getting tickets. I’m guessing that there are about 7,000 full season and 14,000 half season (sharing 7,000 seats). I can’t see how the league would not provide the Pens with 7,000 lower bowl seats for the full plan STH.”
The consensus from the 30+ season ticket holders I spoke with in the past 24 hours is that with this being a home event, Pens season ticket holders should have been taken care of first.
“Will, I am upset like many other fans, ” another season ticketholder told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com via email. “I am in the 500 Level for the Winter Classic which is ridiculous for a loyal season ticket holder to be so high up in the stadium. Also my new season seats in the Consol Center were moved to the upper deck when they relocated me from the Mellon Arena. I am not even close to where I used to be.”
One season ticket holder even feels let down by the Penguins.
“I truly expected things to be a lot different than what they were for the first Winter Classic and I fully expected high ticket prices, another season ticket holder told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com via email.
“What I got when I looked at my invoice was shocking. Even worse are the excuses and seeming lack of giving a crap by the Pens I realize that the team is getting more popular and all, but this just seems like another in the long line of blows to STHs. And, just as I was cooling down over the mess that I went through with the relocation process.”
“First of all, $139.00 PLUS and $11.00 service fee per seat to sit in the 500 level of Heinz Field. That $150.00 is more than three times the $47.00 that I pay per game for this coming season. The pricing for this game is out of control. I’m near the 50 yard line, but there are STHs in the end zone that are paying near, if not the same, for even worse seats.
“The Pens line…it’s a league event, they set the pricing and ticket allotment. Well, then the league should be ashamed of itself! I wonder how much good seats cost? One purpose of this event is to draw in the casual or non-fan by staging a fun and nostalgic event. Meanwhile, they’re pricing out the longtime, die-hard fans let alone others. In Buffalo, I was on the side of the rink, down near the field for something like $20…and that was for the tickets that the Pens managed to secure after the event was already sold out. Greed has come a long way in a short time.”
One season ticket holder contacted us this afternoon and said he intends on selling his seats due to the price, being assigned 500 level seats and not having an opportunity to purchase seats in the lower level.
“I’ve been a season ticket holder for 5 years, as soon as I got out of college, the season ticket holder told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com via email.
“My wife and I went to Buffalo for the winter classic and spent a total of 150 dollars. We had seats on the second level, 45 yard line, 10 rows up, for a total of 60 dollars for the two. We spent another 90 riding a bus up to Buffalo. I think it’s a total crime that we were able to choose our sections for a winter classic that wasn’t even in Pittsburgh, but here in our hometown we are stuck with a like it or not approach.”
“My tickets are located in section 525, end zone, and I know from walking up the stadium at buffalo, they will suck. And at around 300 dollars total for two, I think it’s a crime. It will cost me as much for one ticket in my hometown as it did for 2 and the travel expenses when I went to Buffalo. I plan on trying to sell my tickets but I don’t want to get stuck with them.”
– Thanks to all season ticket holders who contacted us for their input.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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