TORONTO – Hockey Canada says it will further evaluate its ticket prices and sales procedures before hosting another world junior hockey championship in Vancouver and Victoria in 2019.
Crowds for non-Canadian games at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre have been sparse through the first four days of this year’s tournament. Even with Canada in action, only the Boxing Day matchup against Russia resembled a sellout at the ACC.
In Montreal, where Group A has played its preliminary-round games, attendance hasn’t been anywhere close to a sellout for the first six games at the 21,288-seat Bell Centre.
“If we knew then what we know now, we might not have gone back-to-back, but that has no bearing on the fact we’re very pleased that we came to Toronto and Montreal,” Scott Smith said.
Smith, who officially took over as president of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney on Thursday, says the governing body has established a ticket department to oversee how tickets are sold. Smith says some of the attendance woes at this year’s tournament are due to the secondary market and the sophistication of ticket brokers such as StubHub.
One of the issues in Toronto has been the plethora of high profile events in the city recently. In addition to the World Cup of Hockey this past September and the upcoming Centennial Classic, Toronto sports fans saw the Raptors go to the Eastern Conference finals last spring and the Blue Jays qualify for the post-season in back-to-back years. BMO Field also played host to both the 104th Grey Cup and MLS Cup last month.
When Toronto and Montreal were awarded both the 2015 and 2017 world juniors in 2013, the only other potential marquee event on the calendar for Toronto was the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, which hadn’t been awarded to the city yet.
“Everything else has been added since and some of the good fortunes of the franchises whether it’s been the Raptors or the MLS team or the Jays – that’s drawn on the consumer’s discretionary ticket (budget),” Smith said.
Following the 2015 world juniors, which saw poor attendance at Montreal’s Bell Centre, Hockey Canada reviewed its prices and says it made adjustments.
“We attempted to adjust our ticket price, specifically in Montreal, maybe more so than (in Toronto),” said Smith. “I would say (Russia-USA) is a good reflection of a non-Canadian game.
“There are some other games quite frankly that we had hoped to have a larger audience at.”
Despite the poor attendance, Hockey Canada says it’s at 80 per cent of its overall goal of $21 million in ticket sales for the under-20 tournament.