Nearly two months after tickets went on sale for the upcoming CFL game in Moncton there are still thousands of tickets up for grabs, and some are blaming high prices for the sluggish sales.
A seat at the Moncton Stadium’s party zone will cost at least $78. For grandstand seating, prices are as high as $183 for a single ticket.
When the first Touchdown Atlantic game was held in Moncton in 2010, the league billed the game as “affordable, accessible, authentic fun” with tickets ranging from $29 to $79, and a promise that more than half the 20,000 seats would be less than $50. The game sold out in 32 hours.
But this time, one economist says the pricing isn’t likely to be encouraging to fans.
“It’s higher than most other cities that have established brands, that have established teams, and have a large fan base, you’re trying to grow the game in Atlantic Canada,” said Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University.
“That doesn’t build a game, that doesn’t build a fan base. That just turns people off and it puts in their mind that if that’s the price today, what’s it going to be when it’s our team that’s playing?” he added.
This year’s regular-season tilt between the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes on August 25 is being presented by the Atlantic Schooners, the group that’s looking to bring an expansion team to the region.
Schooners Sports and Entertainment has suggested it could host at least one season’s play in Moncton while it builds a stadium in Halifax. There’s still no deal in place to build a stadium and no business plan has been presented to Halifax Regional Council for consideration. The group’s co-founder Anthony LeBlanc declined to answer questions for this story.
The game in August is meant to be a push toward marketing a regional team. The Schooners owners have been clear that any team will need the support of the entire Atlantic region.
But Lander says even in Halifax, the team isn’t as visible as it should be.
“You want to make sure that this city is blanketed in Schooners,” he said. “I’ve been (in Halifax) for a month and I can’t tell you how many scarves and kits I’ve seen for the Wanderers. It’s everywhere. They’ve done an amazing job putting that team into the city’s core. The Schooners can do that, too.”
People in Moncton say the prices seem steep.
“I do find it rather heartbreaking, because the children love it and how many parents can afford $78 per child, plus themselves, plus maybe some popcorn at the game?” said Moncton resident Michelle Wilboltt. “It’s cost prohibitive.”
“I think they’ll find that with the higher price, less people will be incented to go. But again, you’ll get fans that are willing to pay and if they’re going to pay for it, why not?” said Cali Barnstead, who’s also a resident.
Lander says he thinks the game will sell out eventually.
“By the time kickoff comes all the seats will be taken,” he said. “But the fact that you had to take that long is a bit of a worry for the CFL headquarters that maybe they priced incorrectly.”