It's been a long two decades since the New York Rangers were in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now that Lord Stanley is within the Blueshirts' grasp, diehard fans are paying big money for home game tickets.
Heading into Game 6 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, tickets on the secondary market were averaging about $800, with the "cheapest" seats selling for $350. Within hours of the Rangers defeating the Montreal Canadiens, sending the New York squad to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since Mark Messier led the Rangers to the championship in 1994, those $350 seats truly do seem cheap. So do the $800 tickets for that matter.
As of Sunday morning, it wasn't yet determined who the Rangers would face in the finals. But, because either opponent (Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings) would have home ice advantage, it was clear New York would host Game 3, 4, and (if necessary) 6 at MSG—and ticket prices for those games skyrocketed. At StubHub, the cheapest seats for Game 3 were going for more than $1,000. Meanwhile, tickets for Game 6, the last game of the series that the Rangers could possibly host, were starting above $1,500. According to ticket aggregation and research site TiqIQ.com, the average ticket price in New York ranged from $2,200 for Game 3 to more than $2,700 for a potential Game 6.
Prices haven't changed much since it became clear the Rangers will be playing the L.A. Kings for the Stanley Cup championship. As of Monday, the cheapest prices for Games 3 and 4 at MSG started at more than $1,100, and Game 6 tickets were available for $1,700 and up.
Those are the least expensive tickets, mind you. Lower section seats near the glass for Game 3 were posted with asking prices of more than $7,000 apiece at SeatGeek.
As the Daily News recalled, the Rangers' 1994 dramatic, long-awaited championship is still remembered fondly by fans, who had suffered through 54 years without a Cup:
“The waiting is over!” play-by-play legend Sam Rosen bellowed. “The New York Rangers . . . are the Stanley Cup champions! And this one will last a lifetime! No more curses. This is unbelievable.”
Today's New York fans are hoping that the magic comes back to Madison Square Garden ice, and that their wait for another championship ends at the 20-year mark. Those lofty ticket prices demonstrate how badly fans want to see the team hoist the Cup. They also show how crazed Rangers fans are in general.
The same can't be said of the fan base in Los Angeles, which isn't exactly known as a hockey town. Last week, the Chicago Tribune noted that NBC, which is airing the games, must be rooting for the Blackhawks to make the Stanley Cup Finals because an Original Six Rangers-Blackhawks series would blow away a Rangers-Kings showdown in terms of TV ratings, thanks to Chicago's diehard hockey fans.
Likewise, ticket prices probably would have been higher for a Stanley Cup home game in Chicago versus sunny Los Angeles. On Friday, tickets for Game 6 that night at the L.A. Staples Center, when the Kings could have closed out the series against the Blackhawks at home, were starting at around $120 on the secondary market. Now that we know the Kings are in, ticket prices on StubHub are starting below $500 for Game 1 in Los Angeles, or less than half the get-in price at New York's Madison Square Garden. Tickets to a potential Game 7 in Los Angeles are available for just a smidge more than $1,000, "cheap" compared to the going prices in NYC.