Winter Classic ticket sales leave Flyers fans discontented

Posted: October 24, 2011

Some Flyers season-ticket holders are unhappy because, in order to attend the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers on Jan. 2, they must also purchase tickets to an alumni game and an AHL contest, all of which will be at Citizens Bank Park.

Non-season-ticket holders are miffed because they won't get a chance to purchase Winter Classic tickets unless they want to pay inflated prices on Internet sites.

In the middle of all this ticket drama is Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' senior vice president of business operations and a man who has an unenviable and impossible job: trying to please everyone.

"The demand for tickets," Tilger said on Sunday, "is overwhelming."

The NHL allotted the Flyers about 19,000 tickets to the Winter Classic, Tilger said. The NHL, the Rangers, and the Phillies were also allotted tickets. Citizens Bank Park is expected to hold about 45,000 for the game.

Because of the number of tickets the Flyers were allotted, "we don't expect to have a public sale," Tilger said. "We were given just enough to cover our season-ticket base and some partial season-ticket [holders]."

There are many ticket outlets that offer a variety of high-priced Winter Classic tickets. A website called ticketliquidator.com, for instance, lists its cheapest ticket at $601 (Sections 101-148) and its most expensive at $41,466 (a luxury suite for a group of people).

John Bakley, 41, a Mantua Township resident who works as a teacher's assistant at Gloucester County College, is among the many season-ticket holders upset with the handling fees for his tickets. He purchased two tickets that were just below the mid-level price for the Winter Classic at $149 each. The fees for the tickets totaled $67.50, he said. Bakley was also forced to buy two tickets to the alumni game (he paid $72 each, plus fees that totaled $32) and two tickets to the Adirondack Phantoms-Hershey Bears AHL game ($33 each, plus fees that totaled $6).

All told, Bakley paid $508 for two tickets to each of the three games. He said he would not have purchased the tickets to the Dec. 31 alumni game or Jan. 6 AHL game if it wasn't mandatory. His fees for the tickets: $105.50.

"It's not criminal, but it should be," Bakley said. "You can't find anyone who can justify it - short of having Reggie Leach personally bring me the tickets."

Tilger defended the fees, saying they were almost the same as those that were charged for the Winter Classic in Boston two years ago. "The difference is $5 more because we're mailing them," he said.

The fees are based on a percentage of the ticket price. "If you compare them to other major events, they are not outrageous," Tilger said, adding some of the cost is for an online purchasing fee and for credit-card commission.

In Bakley's case, Tigler said that $40 was for a handling fee.

Flyers season-ticket holders were offered a chance to buy Winter Classic tickets that range from $79 to $349 apiece.

A season-ticket holder from Cherry Hill, who asked to remain anonymous, said was unhappy he could only purchase the same amount of Winter Classic tickets (two) that he has for each regular-season game.

He said he's had season tickets for about 12 years and estimated he had spent "well over $100,000" in that span.

"I just want to be able to bring the whole family," he said, "but they won't give us the opportunity."

Tilger said "there just aren't enough tickets" to accommodate those that want to attend the Winter Classic, and that the alumni game and AHL game are other options "to experience an outdoor game."


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

 

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