Canucks: Recession? What Recession?

Patrick Cwiklinski@@patcwiklinskiCorrespondent IApril 21, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 19:  Members of the St Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks fight in the first period during Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 19, 2009 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Chances are that if you’ve turned on the television or opened a newspaper in the past year or so, you know all about the plummeting economy and how Canada and the United States are currently smack in the middle of a recession. However, if you’re a Vancouver Canucks fan, you’re also aware of the fact that the postseason is in full effect and even though playoff ticket prices are at an all-time high, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any for sale, unless you intend to spend a fortune buying from a scalper.

With Canuck playoff ticket prices beating out both Calgary and Montreal (in their centennial year, no less) for the highest in Canada, ranging from $102.50 to a farcical $401.50, it doesn’t seem as though the state of the economy is having any sort of backlash in sales. So, how is it possible for the average fan, that may or may not have been one of the roughly 23,000 people to have lost his/her job in British Columbia last month, to afford what is without doubt the hottest ticket in town, particularly at this time of year? There may not be a black and white answer to that question. but there are definitely some encompassing factors.

There are, of course, the die-hard Canuck fans who bleed in team colours and don’t seem to take issue with the high prices because it’s become such a big part of their lives, that to suddenly stop would be aberrant and treacherous. Then there are the so-called “upper-crust,” the socialites of Vancouver who have made their appearances at GM Place habitual. More times than not, however, these people are not actually there to enjoy the game, but rather to have something to palaver over crumpets and tea the next day (excuse the stereotype). The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s the hardcore or the affluent buying tickets, it all goes back to supply and demand.

The Canucks are undisputed as the most successful sports team in B.C. history and part of that can be attributed to geographic affiliation, but being the only major league franchise in the province doesn’t hurt sales, either. At one point in time, Vancouver was home to an NBA team (the Grizzles, anyone?), but with a losing record, diminishing ticket sales, and its owners, Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment (who, incidentally, also owned the Canucks at the time), beginning to lose money as well, it was discernible that the Grizzles would be unable to sustain themselves for much longer, and thus the move to Memphis in 2001.

The failure of an NBA franchise in Vancouver can be partially blamed on the dominance in sales of the NHL team that Vancouver shared an arena with for six years. And by taking out the competition (not necessarily on purpose), the Canucks have remained at the top of the B.C. sports food chain. In other words, don’t expect an NFL, MLB, or any other kind of major league sports franchise to move in while the Canucks are in town, because there just isn’t enough room for two equally flourishing teams in Vancouver.

With the Canucks season ticket sell-out streak on-going since November 14, 2002 and playoff tickets also gone in the blink of an eye, there don’t seem to be any signs that the franchise is going to lose any sort of money in these discouraging economic times. Yet the story ends with a sigh from the fans who want to be a part of the action and can’t afford to because of the ridiculous pricing. As for me, I’ll be at home enjoying the game on T.V. while trying to tackle the arduous task of trying to grow out my playoff beard.