- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

The Washington Capitals yesterday released single-game ticket pricing for the 2001-02 season with increases as much as 40 percent.
Owner Ted Leonsis braced fans for increases of 15 percent following the July trade for star winger Jaromir Jagr. In the Eagles' Nest at the top of MCI Center, prices remain $10 a seat.
But prices have increased at least 20 percent in six of the other seven primary seating areas, pushed along by a rise in player payroll from $37 million last season to more than $45 million this season. This year's single-game prices range from $10 to $92, up from $10 to $75 last year. Most available seats will range from $35 to $80.
The price increases, combined with hikes as high as 15 percent already placed upon season ticket holders, move the team's average ticket price near last season's league average of $47.70. The Caps' average price last year of $38.42 ranked them as the fifth-least expensive in the NHL.
Single-game tickets go on sale Sept. 25.
"Obviously we have increased costs, but we have worked hard to stay affordable to as many people as possible," said Declan Bolger, the team's senior vice president of business operations. "All of the programs we've had in place to cut prices, such as the mini-plans and family nights, are back this season."
The team's season-ticket base has increased from less than 3,000 when Leonsis purchased the club in May 1999 to 11,400 now. And more than 1,100 of those have bought seats since the Jagr trade July 11. But with another 7,300 seats to fill each home game at MCI Center, the team remains more dependent than most NHL teams on single-game sales. The league requires at least 12,000 season-ticket sales for incoming expansion teams.
The Caps' highest single-game price of $92 for lower level center preferred seats, easily the team's steepest-ever price point for a non-luxury seat, may look jarring. But many other NHL teams charge at least as much, and with most Caps season-ticket holders concentrated in MCI Center's lower bowl, few of those seats will be available to the public.
Even with the increases, the team is expecting a significant upgrade from last season's average attendance of 15,534, due primarily to Jagr, of course.
"We've certainly seen what the reaction [to the trade with Pittsburgh] was from a season-ticket perspective," Bolger said. "The individual sales are going to give us yet another indicator."
Meanwhile, the team said yesterday Comcast SportsNet will air its preseason opener Saturday against Philadelphia, a first in franchise history. The Caps' entire local TV schedule for this season is expected tomorrow.


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