Report Shows Blue Jackets’ Ticket Revenue Down

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Columbus Blue Jackets(Photo: Flickr)
Columbus Blue Jackets(Photo: Flickr)

As officials finalize the agreement to buy Nationwide Arena and offer the Blue Jackets free rent, a newly-released report illustrates the team’s financial situation.

It’s no secret that the Blue Jackets’ ticket revenue has declined.

A confidential NHL report shows the Jackets have seen one of the worst ticket revenue declines in the league. The report obtained by the Toronto Star shows Jackets’ home game ticket sales declined more than 17 percent last season compared to the 2007-2008 season.

In 2007-2008, the Blue Jackets’ average game revenue was $800,000, last season it was $660,000. In the 2010-11 season ticket sales produced $2.7 million.

But Columbus did not see the worst declines; Atlanta and Tampa Bay saw more than 40 percent drops in ticket revenues. Atlanta, last year, moved to Winnepeg.

Canadian hockey fans are using the report to bolster their argument that some teams would fare better north of the boarder.

Marc Ganis owns the Chicago sports advisory firm SportsCorp. Ganis said money from ticket sales are the “life blood” of an NHL team.

“You have lower attendance, you have lower revenues. If you have lower revenues, you generally have losses. If you have losses you’re generally not re-investing in putting more money and taking on more losses to get a better team on the ice. And that becomes a snowball, a downward snowball where the team then doesn’t make the playoffs; it doesn’t then get the revenues it needs so it limits who’s going to sign and so fans lose interest,” Ganis said.

The Blue Jackets lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2009, and have not been back since.

Garis said the Blue Jackets could be more financially viable in a Canadian city, but he said that does not mean it would necessarily be better off, or that the NHL would even grant relocation – it does not like musical chairs, he said.

“The NHL has got a couple of bigger fish to fry, in particular the Phoenix Coyotes where the league owns the team and is losing by most accounts $30 million a year. And they’d like to get that situation resolved before they look at what might happen to the Blue Jackets on a long term basis,” Ganis said.

For many teams, they have an “out” in their leases if ticket sales are terrible. But Bill Jennison who heads up the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, which will own and operate the arena, said there will be no such provision in the Blue Jackets agreement.

And Blue Jackets fans take note: winning can turn ticket sales around. Take the Chicago Blackhawks for example, after they won the Stanley Cup, ticket revenue doubled.