Last season, I bought a "Holiday Hat Trick" ticket package for the Bruins--three games, $33 per ticket per game, for a total of $99. It was a good deal, and it was fun for me to get to my first Bruins games since about 2001. I do love that franchise, after all, as much as it has tortured me over the years.
This season, the Bruins ticket office came back to me with a similar offer, three games for a set price (plus a hat and a gift box--it is, after all, the Holiday Hat Trick package). But this season, the price for three games is $129. I'm no math major or anything, but that seems like about a 30 percent increase in price year-over-year. In this economy, and with the team having done almost nothing to better itself after last season's early playoff exit, I'm not inclined to fork over $30 more this season than I did for the same package last year. I'll have to be content watching Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on NESN.
I will, however, be making it to a few hockey games this year. Right now (but only through Nov. 30), Boston College has a hockey-ticket sale going on that's the best sports deal in town. Tickets to a handful of games are on sale for $5 and $10 each at BC's athletics Web site. I just picked up pairs of tickets for five different games--10 tickets total--for $70.
Granted, college hockey isn't the NHL. There isn't a lot of fighting, and the pace of play is obviously slower at the college level than it is at the highest level of hockey in the world. But BC games are a huge amount of fun--they have a great collegiate atmosphere, and they're relatively easy to into and out of. Besides, BC is usually pretty good, and it's likely that if you make a few BC games, you'll be seeing some future NHL players on the ice. Conte Forum is a fine facility as well--very accessible and comfortable.
There is so much hockey in New England that I sometimes wonder how the Bruins--not exactly the most successful team of the last 35 years or so--draw any fans at all. The American Hockey League, the NHL's farm league, has teams in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Manchester (NH), Providence (RI, where the P-Bruins play) and, of course, Portland (Maine, naturally; the Pirates are my personal favorite AHL team). There's also top-level college hockey at BC, BU (the last two national champions, those two), Harvard, Northeastern, Merrimack, UMass-Lowell and even Bentley--not to mention UNH, Maine, Providence and a few other New England programs. Make no mistake--Detroit might have nicked the nickname, but Boston is a hockey town, and New England is a hockey region.
Of course, I still love the Bruins, and I would love to get to a game or two this season. But, for now, I'm happy to get my hockey fix on the cheap at BC. Where else can you go and be entertained for $5 per ticket? Even the $10 games cost the same as a movie, and I'll take a live sporting event over a night at the movie theater just about any time.
I've even managed to score tickets to the college version of the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. I can't come close to affording a ticket to the Flyers-Bruins outdoor showdown to be on New Year's Day, but for $25 each, I bought four tickets to the Jan. 8 college event. It'll still be hockey, and it'll still be at Fenway--plus, it'll be BC-BU, which is a bigger rivalry than Flyers-Bruins has ever been.
So, sorry, Bruins, but I'm not down with your price hike this season. I'll be back in Chestnut Hill this winter cheering on the hard-working lads from Boston College and enjoying the best sports value for the money in town. Go Eagles!