Thanks to everyone who shared their sentiments Tuesday about being season ticket holders during the lockout. (Check out the story that ran in Wednesday’s paper here.) With so many responses, it was impossible to fit it all in print, so here’s more of what Caps fans had to say.
Julian Brunner from Petworth, a four-year season ticket holder in Section 410:
“In the past [Capitals owner Ted] Leonsis has spoken about how owning a team you should act like a steward for the city in caring for it, and he’s also spoken previously about how rewarding your key players is an important element for getting their buy in and building a winning franchise. Those words seem like a joke now that he’s willing to cost us fans a season of hockey (and a season the primes of our best 2-3 players) [to] put the screws to the players union and try to get them to not honor full deals that he himself signed. I’m strongly considering giving up my tickets because it makes sick to think that my money is supporting his behavior.”
Angie Secrest from Highland, Md., a five-year season ticket holder in Section 113:
“Sadly ‘this’ lockout has left me feeling incredible negative about the NHL and how it is run. To me someone should have been looking out for the best interest of the sport, a third party that wasn’t siding with players or owners but that honestly was looking out for hockey and it’s growth. This is not something that I see Gary Bettman being capable of, he is just another greedy businessman looking to line his pockets. I love hockey, but I just can’t stomach the idea that any of my money would go to any of these owners or the NHL ever again.
“I have already had all but 10% refunded, the 10% just keeps our account open and my seats until I decide firmly that I’m not going anymore and I see that as just days away. I think had they resolved this sooner rather than later, I would have felt differently, but hockey has been ‘gone’ for so long now that my life has moved on without it!”
Mike Easby from Ballston, Va., a five-year season ticket holder in Section 405:
“I am definitely on the fence. But whether or not I renew my season tickets hinges upon their pricing. If they keep prices the same, or have a ridiculous 25% increase for a third straight time, then I will definitely give up my season tickets after having them 5 years.”
Hina Ansari from Woodbridge, Va., a three-year season ticket holder in the Acela Club:
“The lockout is ridiculous and the time it is taking to hash things out is preposterous. The owners and players are being infantile and the negotiators are not helping. Mediation aside, I don’t have high hopes for the NHL season, nor the executives, such as Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr. How can I consider supporting a sport that doesn’t care about me, or my money, as a fan? When I think about the money I’ve spent attending NHL events and buying gear, it just makes me sick. Ted Leonsis has yet to say anything I want to hear about this lockout, nor has any other owner or rep from the NHL. I’m an avid football fan, an STH for the Nats and Wiz (regrettably) and I question my own motives for supporting teams and sports that don’t care about the fans.”
Brian Drake from Germantown, Md., a 14-year season ticket holder in Section 411:
“It gets frustrating. I understand that this is their business and their livelihoods but their livelihoods are coming from our money. The words from both sides have become hollow at this point. It’s tough but I don’t want to lose out on the chance to see the Caps play for the Stanley Cup, if it happens. They’ve gotten to the point where they’re decent and close and I don’t want to miss out on that. I’ve talked to my seat partner, my son, he’s 10 and he’s told me ‘No, you can’t give them up yet.’…Fortunately I can get my hockey fix other ways. My son plays travel hockey and so I don’t miss the NHL games as much — I saw six hockey games this weekend.”
Nicci Uiterwijk from Rockville, Md., a first-year season ticket holder in Section 407:
“If there’s a season this year, I’ll keep the tickets for the rest of it. If there’s no season I’ll probably stick it out, go for the first season back just to see what the experience would be like but then I probably wouldn’t buy again. It’s accessible on TV and it’s been extremely frustrating to see the two sides seem so close in talks only to keep losing more months [off the schedule].”
Andrew Pang from Arlington, Va., a four-year season ticket holder in Section 101:
“I will most likely give up my seats, for a number of reasons: 1) While hockey is still my #1 sport by a long-shot, I have soured on much of the system with this lockout.
2) While ticket prices might be relatively low compared to other teams, they are still darn expensive when multiplied out over the whole season. Add babysitters, parking & concessions, and it tops $11k for 2 seats.
3) Because of work, kids in school, etc, I can only attend about a third of the games anyway.
4) It is quite difficult to sell tickets to unused games during the first half of the season – football and the seeming unimportance of early-season games reduces the demand dramatically and ensures I either eat my seats for certain games or sell them at a loss. Averaged out over the season, these losses tend to neutralize the discount I get for the games I actually attend.
5) I have found I like being at home with my entire family rather than fighting traffic, parking, watching the game and driving back home with only one of my family members. The cost precludes me from buying 4 seats so my whole family can enjoy the games.
Kevin Broun from Rockville, Md., a three-year season ticket holder in Section 404:
“If they don’t play at all this year, I’m sure I’ll give up my seats. It’s not like tickets will be difficult to find, or very expensive, on the secondary market after this debacle. Ted Leonsis should realize that he’s endangering customer goodwill in a relatively fragile economic situation, especially by acting as one of the “hard line” owners, if that’s true.”
Lyndsey Arnold from Arlington, who just got off the season-ticket waiting list and now has seats in Section 402:
“We are die hard Caps fans. In fact, we planned our wedding around the season for the summer. Ridiculous. All this lockout has done now is make me numb. I honestly think they are all a bunch of [jerks] but I place most of the blame on the owners.
“At this point, I don’t even care if there’s a season. In fact, I’ve grown used to having my winters to myself and I am saving a lot of money. I do miss having something to watch every night, because there were always hockey games on but I catch up on my shows. In other words, I have officially moved on. I don’t care anymore. But then again, I responded to your tweet, so I guess I do still care. We will have to think long and hard about renewing next year. After a year off, going back to going to games 3/4 nights a week sounds horrific. Also seeing everyone play in Europe isn’t helping. I’ve stopped clicking on Russian Machines links on Twitter, they just annoy me. People ask us all the time how we are doing without hockey at first I was mad. Now I am just apathetic. But I promise you this, I will have to think long and hard before spending $1700 next year. I would like to know what’s going to happen with my $1700 that Ted already has for the 2012-2013 season, though.”
Jay Carini, a 12-year season ticket holder from Section 400 held on to his seats despite moving to Ohio two years ago. Here’s a portion of a letter he sent to the team this month:
“For the first time in my 10+ years as a season ticket holder I’m questioning whether or not I will renew. Prices continue to escalate, the players and owners don’t appear to care about the fans or the damage this is doing to the league, and it seems like we are being taken for granted.
“I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Caps and Mr. Leonsis’ ownership team, but I am just not happy or comfortable with the direction the league is heading. Hockey has always been an avenue for entertainment and a way to get away from everything else, I just hope it regains my trust or I will find new avenues for my family’s time and money.”
Ted Ferragut, a 20-year season ticket holder from Delaware, shared a letter that he sent to the Capitals’ Jim Van Stone, senior vice president of sales and service:
“It does not appear that the lockout is going to end any time soon. Hence, my wife and I have decided to take a long vacation to Australia and New Zealand, starting in late January. We made this decision as we can’t wait for the NHL-PA to straighten out their business matters. We don’t believe that a shortened season is what we originally contracted with the Caps and the NHL. We also don’t want to be in the position of having to sell game after game while out of the country. We are tired of waiting and can use the ‘budget’ set aside for Caps hockey to travel. I am asking for you to release me from any 2012-2013 obligations, roll this money into a full season starting in 2013-2014, and allow me to maintain my current seat. We thought hard and long about just dropping out, but we feel rolling over this money is best for all concerned. After 20 years as a season ticket holder and 35 years as a fan, it is really hard to be a Caps fan these days. Really hard.”
Jill Colby from Roanoke, Va., canceled her season tickets in September after seven years. She was a Capitals ticket sales representative for a little over a year from 2001-02.
“I am frankly beyond disgusted with the Caps and the NHL. Although I blame the owners and league for the current situation, all parties have conducted themselves poorly, and I don’t believe the game will bounce back this time. There are no Ovechkins or Crosbys waiting to re-ignite the fans’ passion and capture new fans. As for me, I enjoy the game enough that if and when it returns, I will still watch on TV. But I will be hard-pressed ever to hand over another dime to Ted Leonsis. During his tenure, Bettman has made a mockery of the game of hockey — a game that no other sport can touch in terms of sheer excitement and finesse. The cancellation of the whole season is a mere formality at this point. I believe NHL hockey as we knew it is dead. I’m just glad I was able to witness a few fun seasons in person…even if the Caps never could manage to get past the second round.”
Justin Valentine, a five-year season ticket holder in Section 405 from Severn, Md., suggested during a phone interview that whenever the lockout ends Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis should do more fan-outreach:
“He needs to show the fans he cares. It’s going to have to go back to the way it was when the team wasn’t very good, with Ted out at the F Street entrance thanking everyone who walks through that door personally. They say we’re the best fans in the world all the time, show us.
“A client of mine had an interesting idea I support too, that for the first season after the lockout Ted should give his suite to fans at every home game. He could sit in the season ticket holder’s seat instead – not just the club or 100 sections but up in the 400s too – so he could experience what we do, what we pay money for…..Hopefully he can remember what it’s like to be a regular guy, struggling to take care of our families and realize that tickets are a luxury.”
Travis Rechenbach, a seven-year season ticket holder in Section 400 from Washington:
“The last time it was because the owners wanted the game to change and they wanted to roll back some of these salaries but this time it’s pretty much the same thing. Casual hockey fans just want hockey back. I [want] hockey back and frankly I think the fans in this area honestly won’t divert away from showing up at Verizon Center once hockey comes back. But it’s awfully hard to defend a sport and bring in new fans and season ticket holders if another lockout is on the horizon.”
Vince Piperni, a 14-year season ticket holder in Section 408 from Alexandria, who shares tickets with his sister:
“We sat through the last lockout and actually moved to the front row of 408 (into Row A from Row D) as a “reward” for staying through the fire sale, the last lockout, and the painful Caps rebuilding process that followed. But enough is enough. I don’t want to write a novel here but in short, neither one of us is happy with either side of this dispute. The players offering only a five year deal is especially unappealing because this means that we would be right back at this again in just five years, at least we got seven years this time around.”