BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins announced Wednesday they are raising ticket prices for the 2014-2015 season, and that decision is not going over too well with many fans.
Loge seats will now range from $88 to $145 (up from $70 to $132 this season) and balcony seats $45 to $98 (compared to $32 to $91). That's an increase of up 25 percent in the loge and 40 percent in the balcony on the lower-priced tickets. The higher-end tickets in both sections went up by less than 10 percent.
Fans displayed their displeasure Thursday through social media. Bruins team president Cam Neely explained the organization's decision during an interview on sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub.
"Obviously, it is a big increase," Neely said Thursday. "It's something that they haven't seen an increase like this and we've had numerous discussions before we landed on what we were going to do. We expected our fan base to have some comments about it, but I think, for the most part, we've done a pretty fair job of controlling our ticket prices, based on what we're able to spend to the [salary] cap and how much money we do spend on player payroll and trying to build championship teams."
Neely said, "We're seeing a bigger gap between the season-ticket price and what the box-office price is, and then on top of that the box-office price with what the secondary market is, so we're looking to close that gap a little bit."
Neely added there are four other American teams in the NHL that currently have higher ticket prices than the Bruins.
"We feel we've put a competitive team on the ice. We've won a Cup, we've gone to the finals [twice] and the cap's going up next year by close to $7 million and we're going to be able to spend to the cap, so we felt it was justified at this time," Neely said.
Heather Yunger, of Boston, has been a season-ticket holder for 15 years, and said she's upset that there was no advance notice on the price increase.
"You can't plan for a 46 percent increase," Yunger said. "You can't put that in your budget. Honestly, it makes me feel like my time and my loyalty isn't valued."
Yunger added, "I'm not debating that the team isn't good, and I'm not debating that's probably in line with what the NHL can charge and what the Bruins can get away with charging, but just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."
Yunger continued, "I walked in when everyone was walking out on this team. The team that they have now is the team I dreamed of having. I dreamed of having a team that was all-around good and competitive every year, and honestly you can't beat those guys. How could you not want to cheer for a guy like Patrice Bergeron? So the pros are that I have a really good, awesome team and they're genuinely likable and I like their chances."
Yunger says Bruins games have become a passion for her. She sports her black and gold colors every game, spends money on parking, dinner and postgame drinks with friends and fellow season-ticket holders. She'll continue to pay for her tickets, but the increase will force her to miss more home games, and it will reduce the chances that she will watch the team on a road trip.
"When I sell my seat, I'm saving more than the cost of my ticket, but now I'm going to have to miss more games of the team I'm very passionate about," Yunger said. "And I'm probably going to have to cut back on any of the Bruins charity events that I try to get involved with."
Also, season-ticket holders in the past were required to purchase two preseason games, but now that has been increased to three.
During his radio interview, Neely was asked if he knew of any season-ticket holders who had cancelled since the team made the announcement Wednesday evening, and the team president said he was not aware.
"Our staff has done a great job here of trying to educate our fan base as to why we're doing what we're doing, and why we feel we needed to make this increase. It's not something we're taking lightly. We certainly appreciate the support that our fans have given us over the last number of years and they're a big part of our success, so we want to try to educate them and listen to them and hear what they have to say."
Yunger was listening to Neely's interview on the "Felger & Mazz" show and she was disappointed by the president's tone.
"I can't even see straight I'm so mad right now," Yunger said. "Don't gloss it over. Don't just say we're happy to educate you. We're not dumb. It's fine but you didn't give us any heads-up. I had no idea I was going to have to plan for this. Nothing in my life cost 46 percent more than it cost last year."
Yunger said she understands it's her decision to spend her discretionary income on the Bruins, but believes it's money well spent because of the family-like environment of her fellow season-ticket holders in her section.
"I'm not mad," she said. "I'm sad."
When asked if she would continue with her season tickets, Yunger said, "Play is under review, but yes, more than likely."