IIHF blames low attendance on high ticket prices set by Hockey Canada

The IIHF said Hockey Canada was responsible for the ticket prices that may have led to empty seats at Montreal’s Bell Centre for preliminary games at the world junior championship.

TORONTO – The IIHF said Hockey Canada was responsible for the ticket prices that may have led to empty seats at Montreal’s Bell Centre for preliminary games at the world junior championship.

Face-value tickets for games in Montreal started at $71 and ranged to $336 for the New Year’s Eve game between Canada and the United States, which drew 18,295 fans.

The capacity of Bell Centre is 21,273.

Just 14,142 fans were in attendance for Canada’s opening game against Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Tickets for Canada’s first three round-robin games (against Slovakia, Germany and Finland) ranged from $66 to $261.

IIHF president Rene Fasel on Sunday that if those prices were in place for a world junior tournament in Europe, there would be nobody in the arena.

In saying that, Fasel added that this would finish as the third-most-attended world junior championship in history behind Ottawa (2009) and Edmonton and Calgary (2012). Fasel said he expects the 2015 tournament post a total attendance between 365,000 and 385,000.

Hockey Canada has said it will not comment on this matter until after the tournament, which wraps up Monday with the bronze- and gold-medal games at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The 2015 world junior championship featured Canada playing its round-robin games in Montreal and knockout rounds in Toronto.

There were 18,448 people in Air Canada Centre Friday night when Canada faced Denmark in the quarter-finals.

Packages for all 19 games in Toronto ranged from $626 to $1,746, and although attendance was not high for non-Canada preliminary games, the expectation was for Canada’s games to draw well.

The packages for 13 games in Montreal ranged from $431 to $1,191.

Fasel said the IIHF and Hockey Canada may have to alter how it sets ticket prices for the 2017 tournament, which will have Canada’s round-robin games in Toronto and the knockout rounds in Montreal.

Before acknowledging ticket prices were a factor in low attendance at Bell Centre, Fasel said in French that perhaps the tournament was marketed differently in Toronto than in Montreal.

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