A recent surge in the Carolina Hurricanes' fan support has not gone unnoticed among the team's money-savvy management.
As the club's exposure grows and seats are filled on a more consistent basis, more and more cash is also being taken out of those loyal supporters' pockets.
It sounds manipulative and counter-productive, but 'Canes management would likely prefer another descriptive word—economics.
Triangle residents are arriving at PNC Arena in increasingly colossal droves between the months of October and April.
Ninety-three percent of the franchise's roughly 10,000 season-ticket holders remained on board through last autumn's NHL lockout and were treated to some of the largest crowds in Carolina history this past spring.
The Hurricanes set a team record for attendance in 2013, averaging 17,558 fans per game (per ESPN statistics).
That total barely edged out the 2006-07 average of 17,386 for the highest since the franchise moved to North Carolina. It was up tremendously from the mere 15,240 average in 2009-10 and dismal 12,330 mark in 2003-04.
However, a look at the past decade proves that the team's ticket prices are actually rising at a far steadier, swifter rate than the team's attendance.
And then it began to rise.
Faster, faster and faster.
The 'Canes, meanwhile, haven't qualified for the postseason since 2008-09.
But that doesn't seem to be making much of a difference.
Unsurprisingly, they featured yet another subtle round of hikes almost across the board.
The five-dollar increase in parking will impact every fan coming out for a game, some of whom may not even be aware of the added price before arrival.
Many lower-bowl seats have become more expensive.
Moreover, economical upper-bowl STHs will be blindsided with a new and extremely tough-to-swallow asterisk, too.
***JULY 26 UPDATE: In a message to current planholders, the 'Canes announced that the Shoot Twice Goal Zone will be re-opened for vouchers and exchange games in 2013-14.***
While the Hurricanes' prices remain cheaper than the league average and relative bargains compared to the triple-digit values of many Canadian team stubs, recent history indicates that Carolina will be quickly growing into its new "metropolitan" label.
It's hard to imagine what next season's prices could be if the 'Canes finally live up to expectations and make the playoffs in 2013-14.
In the meantime, though, the Hurricanes expect fans to continue to flock to PNC Arena each game night—and to continue to fork over a sizable chunk of their wallet, as well.
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