- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Vic Jain is extremely superstitious. So for Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 7 involving his beloved Washington Capitals, the 30-year-old season ticket holder posted his two tickets for sale on Craigslist.

In the past, Mr. Jain showed up to Capital One Arena for a Game 7 only to see the Capitals lose. He’s not about to go through that again.

“I’m just trying to get the Capitals a win somehow,” Mr. Jain said.

Mr. Jain is just one of a surprising number of local fans — some superstitious, others skeptical and some just confident the Capitals will advance without them there to watch — making other plans for Wednesday night, when the Stanley Cup champions take the ice at Capital One Arena with their playoff life on the line against the Carolina Hurricanes.

As of Tuesday, more than 2,300 tickets to the deciding Game 7 were available on the secondary market, according to StubHub, the leading ticket resale website. That doesn’t include other options for tickets on StubHub rivals such as SeatGeek, TicketIQ and Craiglist.

If you’ve got the money, the seats are there.

Ideen Modarres, for instance, offered up his two 400-level tickets for $120 each. But unlike Mr. Jain, the 21-year-old George Washington University student isn’t nervous about the outcome.

If anything, it’s the opposite.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to win,” Mr. Modarres said. “It’s just that — I bought these tickets and the prices skyrocketed. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to sell these tickets and save the money and go to a Round 2 game.’”

That’s a bold choice for the fan of a franchise that is 4-7 in Game 7s during the Alex Ovechkin era. But winning a Stanley Cup can do wonders for changing perceptions. It can even impact ticket sales.

Per TicketIQ, the average price on their secondary market for the Capitals‘ first-round series is up 4% compared with last year’s matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The company says the average price for Wednesday’s game is $223, though StubHub lists it at $173.

From an attendance perspective, the Capitals haven’t had trouble filling Capital One Arena. Per ESPN, they ranked ninth in attendance this season, drawing an average of 18,508 per game with a 100% capacity. And for the atmosphere in the playoffs, fans are decked in Capitals gear while yelling at the top of their lungs to encourage the home team.

That home-venue advantage is becoming rarer in the Washington area. The Redskins’ crowd issues were well-chronicled last fall when attendance dropped 19% and Josh Norman called out fans’ booing at FedEx Field. The Washington Wizards, who share Capital One Arena with the Capitals, wrapped up a non-playoff year with 17,487 fans a game to rank 19th in attendance.

“The NHL is a little bit different because it’s probably the highest demand sport there is in terms of sellouts,” TicketIQ founder Jesse Lawrence said. “If you look at percentage of tickets sold at a league level, the NHL is always top of the league because it’s just a more hard-core fan.

“In a year where [the Capitals are] coming off a Stanley Cup championship, obviously demand is higher and prices in the secondary market are up.”

Still, some fans were trying to unload their Game 7 tickets Tuesday.

For some, there is a scheduling conflict. One Craigslist ticketholder was away on a business trip. Others are trying to save money. In the playoffs, season ticket holders are billed at the end of each round, meaning some will look to recoup the costs ahead of time.

Not everyone who put tickets up for sale has ruled out going. Leesburg resident Paul Holt said if he can’t sell them for his asking value, then he’ll consider attending.

Like Mr. Jain, Mr. Holt doesn’t have the best experience in attending Game 7s. A season ticket holder since 2007, he has witnessed many heart-wrenching losses in person.

“My history with Game 7s, I’ve always left upset,” Mr. Holt said. “It’s a long, bitter drive back.”

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