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Winter Classic Tickets: Why you're probably not going to the game

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If you're not a season ticket holder, it's not going to be easy to get 2012 Winter Classic tickets. It looks as though you're either going to wind up paying an arm and a leg on StubHub or some other third-party site or you're not going to be buying tickets, considering the Flyers aren't anticipating a public sale.

At this time, we do not anticipate that there will be 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets available for public sale. For information on tickets to the Alumni game on Decmeber 31st, 2011 or the Phantoms vs. Hershey Bears game on January 6, 2012, please contact the Flyers Sales Department at 215-218-PUCK(7825).

Yes, that's right. There's probably not going to be a public sale of tickets, and that's different than any other Winter Classic so far.

-- 2008: 41,000 seats were made available to the general public for the inaugural Winter Classic between the Sabres and Penguins at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Bills.

-- 2009: At Wrigley Field in Chicago, there was a small public sale with a lottery following the initial sale to season-ticket holders and other priority interests.

-- 2010: When the Flyers played the Bruins at Fenway Park, there was a similar public sale held. A limited number of tickets were sold to fans who registered via a ticket lottery.

-- 2011: Once again, a lottery was held to determine which fans would win the right to purchase a limited number of available tickets through the public sale.

In all of these scenarios, except for that first game in Buffalo, it was extremely difficult for the average fan to get their hands on tickets. You're either a season ticket holder or you're one of the extremely lucky few that wins a lottery. Otherwise, to StubHub -- and with those prices, probably the bread line -- with you.

This year, it's quite simple as to why there are no tickets available for public sale. The Flyers have about 17,000 to 18,000 full season ticket holders (yep), and then when you consider the partial season plan holders that get priority next and the NHL interests (sponsors and the like) that get tickets AND THEN the Rangers season ticket holders that get a chance... you're nearing the ~43,000 seat capacity pretty quickly.

That sucks. A lot. When you think about it though, it's hard to get too upset. Season-ticket holders deserve the right to buy tickets before everybody else. So do partial plan holders. And before you get mad at Rangers fans, if you were a Flyers season ticket holder but didn't have the chance to buy tickets to the 2010 game, you'd be a little irritated, right? Yeah, they'd feel the same way this year.

At the press conference at the ballpark a few weeks back, Comcast-Spectacor chairman Peter Luukko leaned on the fact that there will be more than just a game on January 2, meaning that just about everybody who wants to will get the chance to see a game outdoors in Philadelphia will get that chance.

"What we're going to do as a result of that is not just make this one great game, but really make it a celebration and a festival of hockey. We're going to have an alumni game December 31st at 1:00, give everybody a chance to come and see Ranger greats versus Flyers greats, renew some of that rivalry.

The other thing we're going to do which we're really pleased with is we're going to bring the Phantoms back. They will play here on January 6th at 7:00. The Phantoms will play Hershey. The whole idea behind this is to get everybody in the marketplace to have an opportunity to see a game outdoors. There's nothing better than that. We're going to have discounted tickets for hockey kids, groups, the ability for everybody to participate in this Winter Classic, plus all the other events that surround it and put the hockey world, make us the focal point of hockey not just for a day but for a week.

We're looking at bringing some high school hockey here, collegiate hockey here, public skating where people can actually skate on Citizens Bank ballpark, which I think is just tremendous. We're just going to start the new year off the right way and a real good hockey way. Thank you."

But here's some news from Frank Seravalli of the Daily News on Monday night:

Winter Classic: Hearing Flyers season-ticket holders must purchase all 3 games, Winter Classic, Alumni and Phantoms game.

And if season-ticket holders have to buy tickets to all three games, that's taking more tickets away from the general public, isn't it? Not to mention it's silly to force season-ticket holders to buy tickets to three events just to get into the Winter Classic after everything they already do to support the organization.

Maybe they figure that if season-ticket holders are forced to buy all three tickets, they might choose not to exercise their right to buy tickets at all. And if they do that, that'll allow for a limited sale for the general public. That's the only possible reason I can think of -- besides just maximizing profits -- that they'd force STH's to buy tickets to all three events.

But really, if you're already plopping down upwards of $300 for Winter Classic tickets, is the ~$100 (at most) on alumni game tickets and the $53 (at most) on Phantoms game tickets really going to deter you? Maybe in some very limited cases, yes. Not enough to make a real difference.

Instead, the probable impact of this is really quite simple: Season ticket holders will be forced to buy tickets to all three events, thus ensuring that all three events will be sold out -- $$$$$$ for everybody. Then, a limited number of tickets will be available to the general public for the Phantoms game and the alumni game, and many people will be left in the cold.

The promise that Winter Classic week will be a time where "everybody in the marketplace will have an opportunity to see a game outdoors?" Yeah, maybe a high school game. Or a non-Division 1 college game. That's about it.