As most followers of the D.C. Sports Guys know, I've been hard pressed to say anything negative about the Washington Capitals since their loss to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I've been impressed with their free agent acquisitions of Knuble and Morrison and development camp highlighted the depth of talent waiting in the wings. It's been a good summer to be a Caps fan. In all my excitement, I was eagerly waiting to re-up with another partial season ticket package for the 2009-2010 season.
Last season I had jumped on the "Rivals 6 Game Pack" and was able to see Carolina, Ottawa, Philly, Pittsburgh, Florida and Tampa Bay. A solid line-up with a total cost of $280/person for Mezzanine Center seats. Also 6 games equates to roughly 1 game per month during the hocky season. Something anyone can plan their schedule around. It was a deal you'd pretty much make ten times out of ten.
I knew with the buzz surrounding the team as of late, on top of the Caps making the playoffs the past two seasons, that I wasn't going to see the same offerings again. At the very least I was expecting ticket prices to jump. When I did receieve the 2009-2010 Partial Plan Schedule from the Capitals, I discovered what a marketing team will do once their product becomes hot. No more 6 game plans. Either jump to a 10 gamer or drop down to 5 games. Not the end of the world, but upon futher review I discovered that some of the plans included a PRE-SEASON game. The regular season for the Caps starts on October 1. Three out of the four 10 game packs, the Gartner, Hunter, and Langway all include a game in September. The Labre pack was the only 10 gamer to have all regular season games. On top of that 3 out of the 8 five game packs also have 1 game that is played in September. My jaw dropped just a little bit as I felt Dan Snyder had somehow infiltrated the offices at the Verizon Center. None of the packs that include a pre-season game are priced any differently than those that don't. You end up paying full price to watch an exhibition match. From an organization that is all about the fans, I felt this was like a slap in the face. I called the ticket office acting as if I wanted one of these flawed game packs, not mentioning I knew one game would be played pre-season. To the Capitals credit, the first thing they told me was that the first game was not a regular season game. At least their sales team isn't trying to sneak one past the fans, but this still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The bottom line is don't try to sell me pre-season tickets at regular season prices. I'm not going to pay the same price for games that don't count, and I'm going to feel like someone was trying to rip me off.
Another obvious omission from any of the game packs is a game involving the Pittsburgh Penguins. I don't know if this was done to prevent Pittsburgh fans from buying up game packs just to come to one game or to sell the Pittsburgh tickets at a higher rate as a single game ticket, but I always look forward to a Caps/Pens game and was disappointed when it was nowhere to be found.
Ultimately "5 Game - H" was the winner for the group I go to Caps games with. We'll be rocking the red somewhere in one of the Mezzanine End sections for 5 REGULAR SEASON games.