With playoff hockey approaching in a couple weeks, teams are doing everything they can to prepare. While preparation for the playoffs usually refers to behavior on the ice, the Vegas Golden Knights organization has been busy off the ice as well.
Adam Gretz of NBC Sports reported on March 27 that Vegas has taken an interesting approach to ensure that it will have a significant home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
The Golden Knights have announced a program called “Knights Vow.” This program offers season ticket holders a cheaper price for playoff tickets if they forfeit their right to sell their ticket to someone else. Ticket holders will receive their tickets electronically from FlashSeats and will be unable to resell their tickets through StubHub, which is the secondary partner to the Golden Knights.
While this behavior may seem unethical, it’s surprisingly reasonable when compared to the behavior of past teams.
For example, the Nashville Predators have deliberately hindered opposing fans’ abilities to buy tickets to the games. According to Fox Sports, Nashville launched a program in 2013 called the “Grow the Gold” campaign.
The rules of the campaign stated that if a fan wanted to buy a ticket for a game in Nashville against the Chicago Blackhawks, then that fan also had to buy tickets for two other Predators games. This tactic was implemented to prevent Blackhawk fans from buying tickets to the game. Nashville did this to ensure that it would have a strong home-ice advantage against its division rival.
Nashville isn’t the only city that went out of its way to keep out Blackhawk fans. According to Shannon Ryan and Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune, the Tampa Bay Lightning implemented similar restrictions on Chicago fans during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the two teams. In order for fans to buy a playoff ticket for the games in Tampa Bay, they had to pay with a credit card associated with a Florida ZIP code.
While the behavior of Nashville, Tampa Bay and now Las Vegas is hardly respectful, I can understand why these teams are taking such serious precautions to ensure home-ice advantage. These three teams are highly unconventional hockey markets, yet they’ve all enjoyed success this season. They’re trying to grow their fanbases and that can be tricky, especially because all of these cities are quite appealing to tourists and will inevitably attract the attention of rival fans.
Again, their behavior is not exactly admirable, but these teams just want to ensure that they’ll be sharing their playoff moments with residents of their respective cities, rather than the fans of rival teams. I support the decisions that these teams have made. Hopefully, these tactics are short-term solutions, which help young teams build their loyal fanbases for the future.