Why are Canadian hockey franchises so expensive?

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The fact there is but a single Canadian team to be found among the Top 18 NHL organizations in the Puck Money Fan Value Index speaks to two key indicators:

Supply and demand.

Of the six Canadian teams in the National Hockey League, only the Ottawa Senators reported that they did not sell 100 per cent of their tickets for the 2009-10 season – and the Senators were at 98.8 per cent.

With demand that high, the average ticket price in Canada has soared. Add to that the fact that five of six Canadian clubs are currently within $800,000 of the salary cap, and our teams are unable to satisfy the criteria set out in the Fan Value Index: Overall standing (60 per cent), Payroll (10 per cent), Fan Cost Index as established by Team Marketing Report (30 per cent).

(The Fan Cost Index includes four average priced tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular sized hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs, and two of the least expensive adjustable caps.)

Phoenix, a struggling sunbelt team that posted its best season in franchise history, came out on top of the Fan Value Index, followed by San Jose and Buffalo. Of course, a $20 bill will get you into the Glendale Arena on most nights, and stories of free tickets floating around the Phoenix area are legendary.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were considered the worst value in the league, owing to the highest ticket prices in the league, sky-high concessions and parking, and a club that was mired in 29th place at season’s end. Though it is an accurate depiction to find the Leafs a bad value, season tickets are still willed down through families eager to be there if the team ever turns it around.

Edmonton, the worst team in the NHL last season, placed 29th in the Index, while Calgary (25th), Montreal (23rd) and Ottawa (19th) all finished in the bottom half of the National Hockey League. Only Vancouver cracked the Top 15, placing 13th on the strength of the strongest regular season of any of the Canadian teams.

Perhaps the best value in hockey was the Washington Capitals, one of the league’s most exciting, successful regular season teams which plays in an excellent arena in downtown Washington D.C. The Capitals ranked at No. 4 in the Index.