The Buffalo Sabres have apparently grown tired of being the second-most popular team in their own building on certain nights, as a report in the Buffalo News on Tuesday indicated the club will limit the presale of individual game tickets to buyers within a certain radius to make it more difficult for opposing team fans to have a significant presence at Key Bank Center. This has long been an issue for the Sabres, especially with their nearest geographic rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Going back to the 1970s, Maple Leafs fans have made the trek down the QEW for Sabres games, mostly because of their large fanbase less than 100 miles away from Buffalo, a lack of ticket availability in Toronto, and the significantly lower ticket prices for Sabres games. After the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the Sabres implemented a variable ticket pricing plan, with games against Toronto and sometimes Montreal categorized at the highest pricing tier, but once again, that did not dissuade Leafs and Habs fans in Southern Ontario and Western New York from gobbling up seats and being in the majority for most of their matchups.
“Obviously last year, there were a handful of games where we saw the wrong color blue or the wrong color red coming into the building, depending on the jersey we were wearing,” Sabres Vice President of sales and service Frank Batres-Landaeta said. “There will be a presale for Buffalo-area fans within our database to go in and purchase tickets before any other fans outside of our dedicated marketing area will get access,”
While it may make things more difficult for out-of-town fans to purchase tickets for Sabres games, it will likely not succeed. The proposed practice of limiting purchases by zip code will not prevent local ticket brokers from buying blocks of tickets and selling them to fans of the visitors. It will also not prevent season ticket holders (who in the past had the first option of buying single-game tickets) from buying seats to sell on the secondary market or to sell their own seats to allay the cost of their season seats by selling one or two games at a significant markup.
We shall see if this practice has the desired effect, but more than likely, you will continue to hear loud chants of “Go Leafs Go” and “Go Habs Go” for Toronto and Montreal games.