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Sabres take variable ticket pricing a step further with dynamic pricing

August 25, 2016, 10:18 AM ET [280 Comments]

The Buffalo Sabres yesterday announced a "new dynamic ticket pricing model for all Sabres home games in 2016-17," according to their press release. This new model will "adjust ticket prices to better reflect demand throughout the seasons."

The Sabres have been using variable pricing for years having initiated the concept in the NHL back in 2004. At the time the Sabres were having problems filling seats because of a team in transition that had missed the playoffs the prior three seasons. Then team president Larry Quinn was faced with an attendance problem. "The team had 6,800 full-season ticket holders last year and another 1,400 'season ticket equivalents' or fans who bought partial season ticket packages," according to a Buffalo Business First article from July 12, 2004, with the team losing "about $8.5 million," according to Dan DiPofi, chief operating officer.

Quinn came up with variable pricing stating at the time "the idea is to maximize revenue for the high-demand games and find new customers when there is low demand," Quinn said. "It's pretty simple, really."

So the Sabres came up with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Value levels for home-game ticket pricing based upon the opponent and day of the week. A Toronto game on a Friday or Saturday night was very appealing as opposed to a game against, say, the Florida Panthers on a Tuesday and that would be reflective in the price of admission.

A breakdown of the pricing at the time for a 200 level club seat:


For a 300 level seat:

Silver or Bronze--15

"The entire variable pricing package" according to the article, "left the Sabres with an average ticket price of $37 per game, well below the NHL average of $54 per game."

It worked, but now the Sabres are about to take it a step further joining a number of teams using dynamic pricing.

Whereas variable pricing set the price of admission at a set rate throughout the season based upon the level, dynamic pricing will adjust the admission price in-season based upon demand. Much like variable pricing, dynamic pricing "categorizes each game into one of three pricing tiers to determine the initial box office ticket price for individual game tickets," according to the press release. "Games are categorized based on the opponent, time of the year, day of the week, classic rivalries and games against marquee players." But as the season unfolds, "as fans purchase tickets, the price of each individual game can rise or fall to better reflect the demand for tickets."

Of note, the release states that "ticket prices may decrease below the initial box office price, but will never fall below season ticket prices." Which is good news for season ticket holders.

For a link to the ticket price breakdown, click here.

Also from Sabres PR:

*2016-17 On-Sale Dates*

Preseason: On sale now
Mini-pack renewals: Aug. 31
Mini-packs: Sept. 7
Individual-game tickets: Sept. 17
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