The ticket price debacle goes on and I fear that it is going to be the thing that is most remembered from the 2012 World Championships. Yesterday, the Finnish organisers said that they are not going to be lowering the ticket prices to the games following Sweden’s announcement of 70% slash in prices.
The organisers are saying that there have been plenty of tickets sold and even went as far as to claim that the Finland vs Belarus game was sold out. However, the prices continue to be a thorn in the fans’ side. Some tried to stage a protest against the prices in the France vs Kazakhstan game. However, from the opening game between France and USA the organisers had barred the display of banners that were larger than 1mx1m, though if the rule applies to all banners displayed, shouldn’t the organisers ban the display of national flags in the stands as those are bigger than 1mX1m. There was one banner displayed in the Hartwall Arena saying “Kale Hinnat Alas, Kale on varas” loosely translated to Kale, lower the prices, Kale you’re a thief. The banner was visible for five seconds before a group of security officers descended on the group displaying the banner and “kindly” asked for the group to vacate the premises.
Though the group was later allowed back into the stands sans banner, it still says a lot about the way that the organisers are treating the fans. As you can see from the picture below, the group of guys is clearly happy about the prices and of the treatment they have received in the games (Picture courtesy of Esko Seppanen: https://twitter.com/#!/EskoSeppanen) .
The organisers clearly have a stand of “No opinion will be listened to unless it is the approved one by the organisers”. I know that may not necessarily be the case, but that’s what it looks like to me as a spectator and lover of hockey.
In my humble opinion, the games have turned into a joke. Not because of the hockey but because of the fact that the games are played to half empty arenas and the organisers have adopted a “we will not negotiate with terrorists” policy. I guess if the organisers lower the prices it is them admitting that they got it horribly, HORRIBLY wrong.
If Rene Fasel, the guy at the top of the IIHF admits that the ticket prices and the debacle around them is not good advertisement to hockey or to the tournament, there should be alarm bells ringing at the organisers’ office. Oh I forgot, there has been alarm bells ringing and they have admitted that they’ll take these games on board and rectify things for next time. Why next time? Why not now? Is it that bad to slash the prices to games so that there would actually be FANS in the stands cheering the games?
It is ironic that the France vs Kazakhstan game has attracted more or less the same audience as the USA vs Canada game from yesterday and that it is LOUDER in the arena than it was during Finland vs Belarus or USA vs Canada.
In either case, I think Finland and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association will have to wash its face for many months after the games. I’d like to see what some of the stars who are playing in the games think about playing to an empty arena. I know Pavel Datsyuk didn’t seem too happy about the attendance figures in Stockholm and I guess playing to a dead crowd is difficult for the NHL guys who are used to playing to a sold out crowd for the entire season.
For the sake of hockey, I hope that the attendance will get better and that there is going to be cheering at the games. However, something makes me think that this is not going to be the case.