Tickets for first Pens vs. Red Wings game readily available
Share with others:
DETROIT -- It's a beautiful day, hardly a cloud in the sky in the City of Champions. That would be the city of Detroit, which claimed that name back in the 1930s, when the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings all won titles and boxing great Joe Louis held the heavyweight championship for 11 years.
Pittsburgh claimed the title back in the 1970s and these days, Joe Louis adorns an arena that's home to the Red Wings, holding up their end as the NHL champs and aiming to defend that title against the Penguins in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals starting tonight. The Wings aside, Detroit can amend its title to Host City of Champions, as site of the 2005 Major League All-Star Game, Super Bowl XL in 2006 and last year's NCAA Basketball Championships.
While the auto industry here is in a tailspin and GM is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, the city has been sprucing itself up for sports fans and keeping the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau busy.
"We've hosted a string of marquee events since 2004 [when the Pistons were NBA champs], all very visible world-class sporting events, both amateur and pros," said Renee Monforton, director of communications of the visitors bureau. "It's absolutely a great thing for us because obviously we're in a down economy locally, and it's a real shot in the arm. It's a chance for us to show off our hospitality and that we're alive and well. Despite issues with the auto industry, we have other attractions and things to offer, including a brand new riverfront and three new casinos."
If tickets to the Stanley Cup Final were a little slower to sell out here than in Pittsburgh, where they were snatched up in 10 minutes, it's still all good news, said Ms. Monforton.
"Fans from Pittsburgh came here for the Super Bowl and they loved it here," she said. "They come back."
Jeremy Huth of Leechburg e-mailed to say getting tickets for Games 1 and 2 in Detroit was a snap.
"As soon as the schedule was released on Wednesday night, I was able to go on eBay and get two reasonably priced tickets for both games and had them e-mailed to me by the next day. ... If I had waited longer, I could have gotten them straight from the Red Wings Web site without much difficulty but I had wanted to secure the tickets. I have been getting most of my Mellon Arena Pens tickets though eBay and Craigslist for reasonable prices all throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs."
Christian Anderson, director of corporate communications for FanSnap, which aggregates and compares ticket prices from sites such as StubHub and RazorGator, said there are more and cheaper tickets available to the games in Detroit than in Pittsburgh.
"We're seeing tickets go kind of across the board but the get-in price -- that's the lowest price, you just want to be there -- you still can get," he said late yesterday afternoon.
StubHub.com's Sean Pate sent along numbers that indicate the economy is hitting online sales in both cities. As of yesterday, fans had purchased more than triple the number of the cheaper Red Wings tickets than Penguins tickets. StreetInsider.com cited a report that 1,900 Red Wings' season ticket-holders opted to not renew their tickets for the playoffs, which would explain the larger ticket availability in Detroit.
StubHub is finding that finals tickets are, on average, selling for less than they did last year. That's down $100 from an average of $415 last year in Detroit. For the Penguins, the average price has fallen from $758 to $619. The most expensive ticket purchased so far: $3,890 for a potential Game 7 in Detroit.
"The difference in the prices is so much, it would pay to get in your car and drive from Pittsburgh to Detroit," FanSnap's Anderson said. "Even if you stayed in the most expensive hotel, you could still do well."
When they get here, Ms. Monforton said, Detroit is ready to showcase what it has to offer besides its sporting events and Motor City roots, including a revitalized riverfront that will eventually stretch for five miles.
Residents are on board to help out, too, she said. A large volunteer corps was recruited to help with the All-Star Game in 2005, "and they have been prepared to be called on for events ever since." The Stanley Cup visitors also will provide the office of new Mayor Dave Bing with its first taste of coordinating its departments for security and sanitation.
Banners all around the gleaming glass cylinder that is the Renaissance Center, close to Joe Louis Arena and with the GM headquarters its centerpiece, declare Detroit "HockeyTown." That's also the name of a restaurant owned by Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, No. 522 on Forbes.com's list of the world's billionaires.
If there's a renaissance in Detroit, it's at least in part due to Mr. Ilitch, who restored the beautiful Fox Theatre, which recalls the renovations that put the gilt back on the Benedum Center. His headquarters are there, near his Hockeytown Cafe and close to the arena. His team has brought the Stanley Cup Final back to Detroit, where there's still hope for another "shot in the arm," as Ms. Monforton put it, to the economy.
In Detroit, "there are some hotels that have sold out," says Kellie Pelletier of Kayak, which will follow how hotels are trending throughout the finals. "For the hotels with availability, I am seeing an increase in price from as little as $20 to significant increases as high as double the price of previous and subsequent weekends."
Ms. Pelletier said the Leland, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Downtown had availability and good rates, and that the Westin's rates for the weekend "are only slightly higher than usual."
At the Marriott Renaissance Center, the Detroit headquarters for the NHL while the Stanley Cup Final is here, a receptionist said business "has picked up" since the series schedule was announced.
Tim Gagen of Butler said he and a friend secured $190 seats for Game 1 through Ticketmaster with no problems, and he would take his chances without reservations. "We'll drive halfway back home and find something along the turnpike," he said.
Not Jeremy Huth, who's ready to go. After securing his tickets, finding a hotel room at a reasonable rate and within walking distance of Joe Louis Arena took some searching, he said, but he and his friend, who is making the trip from State College, were able to do that, too.
"I plan on wearing all Pens gear, all the time, from the time we leave [today] until I come home Monday. People at work thought I was crazy for wearing Pens stuff in Detroit but that is the whole purpose of going, to support the team, right?"
He'll have opportunity to wear the team colors all day Tuesday, too, well before the 8 p.m. start of the first Pittsburgh home game. Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have declared June 2 "Black & Gold Day," with a noon rally at Market Square to support the Penguins.
Those attending are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item or cash donation for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
First Published May 30, 2009 12:00 am