Not all sports tickets cost top dollar - The Vancouver Sun

Teams recognize their market niche

Ian Walker

If you're a typical sports fan -- you know, the kind who worries about gas prices, mortgage payments and the trade deadline, but not necessarily in that order -- chances are good you're already feeling the pinch as the Christmas season draws near. It's the same thing every year. Add a plunging stock market, a steady drumbeat of layoffs, cutbacks and bankruptcies to the mix and more and more "Joe SixPacks" are cheering on their respective teams not from the stands, but the couch.

It doesn't have to be this way. There's a plethora of options for Lower Mainland sports enthusiasts looking to spread their dollars further. Even before the economic meltdown, Vancouver-based teams like the United Soccer League's first-division Whitecaps, the Western Hockey League's Giants and the Pacific Northwest League's Canadians were well aware that most fans can't spend several hundred dollars -- and some not even $100 -- to attend a game.

"We recognize our niche in the market is with families and keeping it affordable," said Dale Saip, Giants' vice-president of business development. "If hockey is king in Vancouver then we're the crown prince, and we enjoy that role. Our niche has always been providing affordable entertainment."

The Giants' most popular promotion is the White Spot Family Pack. Available for any weekend home game -- almost two-thirds of the team's home schedule -- a family of four can enjoy dinner, tickets, parking and a $10 gas coupon for under $100. The first-place Western Conference club is also offering five-game Holiday Packs through December, which include five of the best games on the Giants' post-holiday schedule for $75. But the Giants aren't the only ones. Less expensive still is attending a home game involving one of the region's three B.C. Hockey League teams. Single-game tickets for the Burnaby Express, Langley Chiefs and Surrey Eagles range from a high of $13 for adults to a low of $6 for children. Each team also offers discounted tickets (the Chiefs through Save-On-Foods, the Eagles and Express through Safeway) and a variety of multi-game and family packs.

Keeping with hockey, you can catch the UBC Thunderbirds playing in their new arena for $10 for adults, $4 for youths and seniors and $2 for students. The prices are pretty much the same across the board for all university sports in the province.

The 2008 USL-1 champion Whitecaps are offering a Holiday Gift Pack, which includes four tickets to any combination of '09 regular-season games for $50 -- more than half off the regular price of $104.

Offering a year-round experience is the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. The inspiring showcase relives the province's sporting moments through galleries and interactive displays that appeal to all ages. The Banner Years is the newest exhibit and offers a look at B.C.'s hockey heritage, including the original Canucks' banners and a giant white towel signed by fans during the Canucks' 1982 Stanley Cup run. In Her Footsteps is another exhibit, focusing on the province's women in sport.

The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame offers packages starting at $25 for a family of four and $49 for a family pass, which is good for a whole year.

iwalker@vancouversun.com

THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO STRETCH YOUR SPORTING DOLLAR

Vancouver Canucks

- 103.5 QM/FM McDonald's Family Nights. Starting at $129, package includes four upper-bowl tickets, two McDonald's Hamburger Happy Meal vouchers,

20 per cent off at the Canucks Team Store and two child admissions to the Vancouver Aquarium. Limited availability.

www.canucks.nhl.com

Vancouver Giants

- White Spot Family Packs. For $89 plus service charges, you get four tickets to a weekend home game, two White Spot burger platters, two White Spot Pirate Paks, a $10 gas coupon from Chevron and a game-night parking pass. Available through Ticketmaster at 604-280-4400.

- Five-Game Holiday Packs. For $75 -- including GST and exempt of service charges -- you get a ticket to five of the best games on the team's post-holiday schedule. Available through the Giants' office at 604-444-2687.

www.vancouvergiants.com

BCHL

- Tickets to the three Lower Mainland teams range from a high of $13 for adults to a low of $6 for children. Each team also offers discounted tickets (the Langley Chiefs through Save-On-Foods, the Surrey Eagles and Burnaby Express through Safeway) and a variety of multi-game and family packs. www.bchl.bc.ca

B.C. Lions

- Season-ticket deposit before Dec. 15 gets you '09 tickets at '08 prices. Early purchase incentives include bonus draw prizes, which include a trip to the '09 Grey Cup in Calgary as well as Eastern and Western road trips.

www.vancouverlions.com

Vancouver Whitecaps

- Holiday Gift Pack. A stocking-stuffer promotion for only $50, which has retail value of $104. Available through the Whitecaps office at 604-669-9283.

www.whitecapsfc.com

Vancouver Canadians

- NatPacks. Ten- or 15-game packs with seats starting at about $8 per ticket. Available through the Cs' office at 604-872-5232.

www.canadiansbaseball.com

Canadian Inter-university Sport

UBC, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University

- Tickets range from a high of $10 for adults to $2 for students.

B.C. Sports Hall of Fame

- Two-for-one admission with ticket stub from a Vancouver sporting event.

- Family rate of $25 or $49 for year pass.

www.bcsportshalloffame.com
© The Vancouver Sun 2008