Keep your seats or get your money back?
Some season ticket members of the Colorado Avalanche now have a tough choice to make. Thanks to the decision to hold games inside a fanless Ball Arena, fans how have two options. Get a refund for their memberships and give up their seats, or “rollover” sunk payments for games that they likely won’t even be allowed to attend.
The arena, formerly known as the Pepsi Center, hasn’t seen a fan since March 11, 2020. Yet, season ticket holders were charged for a playoff package that they wouldn’t ever see – even when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced plans to return to play in two empty arenas twelve and fifteen hundred miles from Denver. The fans who were most eager to purchase and guarantee their playoff seats are the ones that now face a huge dilemma. I am one of those fans.
I paid for a 2020-21 membership in February of 2020 to get early access to playoff seats. Little did I know the whole world was about to change drastically.
I’m not writing this to complain. I want to present my experience to shed light on how complicated season ticket memberships have become during these trying times.
Folks were allowed to pause installments, thankfully, but what if you already paid in full? I have already paid a substantial amount for two seats in the lower bowl. The payments I made were toward games one and two of the first round of the 2020 Playoffs and 41 home games during the 2020-21 regular season. The only way for me to get this money back is a refund with no hold on the tickets. That would mean giving up my seats during the most promising time in the franchise’s recent history.
I consider these two seats in the Ball Arena my second home. My wife and I essentially forged our relationship over beer and hockey in those two seats. I accompanied my out of town friends and relatives mostly to see their faces when Nathan MacKinnon torched their favorite players. I can’t wait to take my future child to a game and tell him/her about all the great times and how we’ve always been in those two seats to witness them. In the words of the Mandolorain, these two seats mean more to me than you will ever know.
So I guess I’ve already made my choice. My family has been fortunate enough to stay employed during these difficult times, which has afforded me the option to withstand this financial loss.
I fear that other fans aren’t as fortunate and that this decision is much bigger than just getting their money worth. Some fans have lost their jobs and will quickly give up their seats to pay their mortgage. Some have children to put first. Some might need money to cover health care expenses. They will have to give up their future seats in order to be reimbursed for games that they will never get to attend.
There has to be another option for those people. I have looked left and right, and I haven’t found any options outside of court-related endeavors. If I’ve missed something, please inform me. I don’t think it’s too much for an organization to plan for people to get their money back while also guaranteeing an equal amount of seats to future games.
I understand that traditionally a refund means you forfeit your right to that product. However, one could argue that the upcoming 2020-21 NHL season will be the least conventional one in the modern era. It’s time for an unconventional response to these abnormal circumstances in all aspects.
A simple solution would be to give full refunds and allow fans to pay a license fee to save their seat for whenever fans are allowed back into the building. Giving current season ticket holders first dibs, of course. KSE can come up with whatever price they want for that option, but it shouldn’t rival the cost of 41 home games and two playoff dates.
Have you had a similar experience, whether with the Avalanche or with another team/sport? Let us know.