With the deadline for season ticketholders to renew fast approaching this week, I finally had to make my decision about UNO hockey. In March, UNO moved my seats and increased the price of the tickets over 10%. Combining that with the need to add another ticket for my son, it caused us to pause, as the price for a family of four is approaching $900 for upper bowl tickets.
Our original decision was to switch to a mini-plan, as we simply can't make all the games. But then we inquired about the price, and last year, a 10 game mini-plan cost more than our "Red Army" seats. UNO hasn't announced their plans for the upcoming season, but based on last year's prices, a mini-plan wasn't going to save us anything. It seems that UNO only offers mini-plans for the lower bowl, so it's probably the same money or cheaper to sit in the upper deck for the entire season versus the lower bowl for half of the games.
So then we discussed dropping our tickets completely, and just going three or four times a season next year, buying tickets on a single-game basis. We gave that a hard thought, but decided we weren't ready to stop following UNO hockey. So we grudgingly renewed our tickets for next season, though we did move the seats over from the "auto-generated" seats we were assigned.
Some will argue that UNO's past history of "discounting" seats have convinced me that UNO hockey tickets are not the value that they are. I argue that a family of four can do a lot of things for almost $50 a night, and asking families to commit to that for an entire season is starting to leap the market. UNO's cheapest ticket price plans are higher on a per-game basis to many other alternatives, including Creighton basketball. We like hockey, and want to continue to attend games...but UNO, frankly, is making it pricey for families.
So, we're back for the next season. But it's a tentative renewal.
I know some people think UNO should build their own facility. That will come with significant costs, and the most likely way that UNO can pay for it is to get fans to pay more. That's why the Omaha Royals left town for BFE; they raised ticket prices (unless you want standing room tickets) to make more money even though attendance stayed flat. And that runs the risk of pricing many fans out of hockey.
I've long felt that UNO hockey could grow the fan base. That's why I think UNO hired Dean Blais to be the hockey coach. But hiking the prices before UNO hits that level of success that I think Blais and UNO are headed towards is going to make it difficult to grow that base.