Giving Sabres season tickets one more go

June 05, 2018 - 9:37 am
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It was probably the worst I ever felt about my experience as a Sabres customer.

It was a Friday night last November, and my wife were in two of "our seats" as season-ticket holders to see the Sabres host Connor McDavid and Edmonton. People will tell you that to really experience and appreciate hockey, you can't settle for TV; you've got to be in the building. For McDavid vs. Jack Eichel, we were in the building.

I love Friday night games. It's the beginning of the weekend. We do a draft for tickets every year, and this game was my top pick.

As it happens -- as it has been happening -- the Sabres entered this game on a losing streak. They'd dropped seven straight and went in with a record of 5-17. The season was almost definitely lost already.

Still, it was a chance to see two great players -- players forever linked -- and it was a night out.

The first period was scoreless. I remember watching it thinking how there was so little action and excitement going on. There's no fighting any more, there's barely any hitting any more, and on this night there wasn't either any scoring. For this game, TV would have been fine. As the second period began in front of a lifeless crowd, my wife and I talked about how we'd have had more fun just going out to eat. At a TV timeout approximately halfway through a still-scoreless game, we left.

In four more months, the season never got any more interesting than that. Games were meaningless and dull, and crowds reflected that. Another season of last-place hockey interspersed with cringe-worthy promotional attempts to keep the crowd interested was going by, and more expensively than ever.

As the season was ending I thought it probably would be my last as a season-ticket holder. We got in at the perfect time -- December 2005 -- and we would be leaving at the saddest one.

Then, the lottery happened.

And we're going to hang in there for one more season.

It's the potential that Rasmus Dahlin can catapult the Sabres up the standings, the way we thought Jack Eichel could or would have. It's the reality of the league's parity and randomness, and seeing last-place teams rise from the bottom year after year. It's the allure of the playoffs, the possibility that soon these spring days around here will again have that palpable electricity we know from past postseason runs.

When -- ok, if -- the Sabres are in the playoffs again, that feeling will return. Would it be the same? I don't know, the Bills just took 17 years off between playoff seasons and one measly wild-card road loss still felt pretty good.

The media caught on last year to how Sabres tickets were selling on the secondary market for $6 each. It would have been lower but StubHub wouldn't let you. The key question for me though isn't what the monetary value of tickets is, it's about the value of the experience, of going to the games. I didn't buy these tickets to make money, and probably neither did you.

When we bought season tickets for the first time in 2005, it was just my wife and I. The next year we add two seats and brought in three friends. Last year we were 20 seats and 26 people. We've built our own season-ticket base, in a sense. I'm proud of that. I don't want to squander that. If that means paying $90 a seat for meaningless games and games I want to leave half-way through, so be it.

For one more year, I'm going to take that chance.

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