With the start of the NBA and NHL seasons fast approaching, I, like many other Leafs and Raptors fans, decided to check ticket prices in the hopes of attending a few games this year. While I certainly wasn’t expecting to find any steals, I thought that I might be able to grab at least one of the few games I had circled; DeMar DeRozan’s return, Dwyane Wade’s final game in Toronto, the lone Leafs home game during reading week, among other highlights.
To no surprise, even the cheapest of tickets didn’t seem worth it to me. Personally, if I’m going to purchase tickets to a sports game, I want to really see it, really experience it. I’d rather cough up $100 for a good seat than $60 for an upper-deck corner seat in row 23. There are some exceptions, however, for example I bought an obstructed view ticket way back during the Raptors playoff series versus the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 just to be in the building for playoff basketball.
More often than not, I’d rather watch the game at home than pay big money for poor seats. Some people prefer watching at home than attending games regardless of price, and I can see the appeal. At home you have as much leg room as you want, you’re not paying $12 for beer or food and you can go to the bathroom without missing a chunk of play standing in line.
But there’s something to be said about being there in person, and how every game you attend you have the chance to witness greatness. Who would’ve thought that a random game in January would turn out to be Kobe’s 81-point game? There’s something different about watching greatness in person as opposed to on T.V.: if you’ve ever been lucky enough to witness a historic moment live you know what I mean.
With both the Raptors and the Leafs’ success as of late, and the growing popularity of both fanbases, ticket prices are naturally going to skyrocket. This year especially, with the Raptors and the Leafs each getting a top-tier superstar in Kawhi Leonard and John Tavares, respectively, this gives ticket-sellers on both the primary and secondary markets an excuse to jack up the costs.
The cheapest tickets for Saturday’s Leafs and Ottawa Senators game is $174, and those seats are in the very last row in the upper bowl of Scotiabank Arena. Keep in mind, it’s against the Senators! A Penguins or Jets game is over $200.
The Leafs, like the Yankees and Lakers, are always going have the most expensive tickets in the league simply due to the city they play in, and the worldwide popularity. According to Forbes, the average Leafs seat comes out to $368, a 13.5 per cent increase from last season. The Raptors are no different. For a mid-November game against the New York Knicks, the cheapest ticket is $179. For a Golden State game? Well over $200. Standing room tickets come out to $170 against the Warriors.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in Toronto my whole life, and especially lucky to have had the opportunity to attend many sports games over the last decade. I can remember my dad buying a 10-game Raptors pack for $120 in 2008. These were the same seats that today go for $180 per game. Both the Raptors and Leafs (and Jays for that matter) were god awful back then, so naturally it makes sense that tickets would be cheap.
I’m sure every Blue Jays fan in Toronto remembers buying seven dollar tickets on a Saturday, eventually moving 30 rows down. The success-to-cheap-tickets ratio will never be perfect, as something has to give. Would you rather see a 50-win season, but only attend one or two games, or a 30-win season in which you attend a dozen?
Sites like StubHub, SeatGeek and even Kijiji for that matter have been my go-to ticket method. I can’t remember the last time I bought a ticket directly off the Leafs or Raptors’ websites. So even if you find yourself watching the game on T.V., wishing you could be there in person, just remember that you’re watching Kawhi Leonard instead of Andrea Bargnani.