Have you ever bought a ticket from Ticketmaster, saw the amount of extra money you had to pay, and then felt like starting a revolution against the corporate fascists who came up with the idea of charging exorbitant fees for basically nothing?
Well, the Florida Panthers have your back -- they're waiving all Ticketmaster fees for home games until midnight tonight, which will save you between $5 and $20, depending on the price of the ticket. Here's why you should get some tickets right now:
1. Tickets are as low as $13.
That's right -- 13 bucks. Flat. And you don't have to wait in line at the gate, either. With the special today that waives Ticketmaster fees, you can be assured to get a ticket for any home game this season for the gate price while sitting in the comfort of your home or office.
This is good, cheap entertainment. If you enjoy watching the world's most gracefully violent sport on ice, it's a no-brainer. But even if you're not sure how much you like hockey, the low price of $13 makes this a low-risk event to be entertained for two to three hours. And you'll probably see a fight. Hockey tends to have those things. So for the price of two hours of parking in Miami Beach, you get to see some of the world's best hockey players ignore the fact that they're playing before a crowd smaller than the crowds they played for in the minor leagues and still take the game seriously. And that's a beautiful sight that can teach your kids a lesson about perseverance.
OK, it probably won't do that, but you can still get your kid in for only $13. And no, these seats won't give you a nosebleed. They're actually pretty good.
2. Parking is free, and the potential is endless.
One of the big knocks against the BB&T arena is that it's in a boring area with nothing to do before or after the game, so why bother driving out there? Well, let me tell you that there is a giant silver lining in that cloud of cynicism.
Directly across the street from the BB&T Center is a mall. The mall is lame, sure -- there's a Target and a Nordstrom Rack and a few other stores nobody ever brags about where they bought something. But this mall also has a giant parking lot where you don't have to pay to park. That means parking is free -- for a professional sporting event. This is remarkable and must be praised.
Of course, parking in the Target parking lot and not ever visiting the Target in question might be against the rules. But who said you should break the rules? Instead, embrace them -- and use this as an opportunity to have a tailgate party before the game.
Target sells food, beer, and wine. They even sell boxed wine. This means you can hang out with your friends in a suburban mall parking lot and eat Hillshire Farms smoked sausage while throwing back boxes of fermented grape drink before crossing the street to see the game (don't worry -- they have crossing guards). Target might even have a sale on Hanes socks, which you probably need, so you can multitask while having a blast.
This is a downright amazing opportunity, and it should not be wasted. If you're not into suburban mall tailgate parties before hockey games, you're not doing life right.
3. The Panthers are a pretty good team, so check them out.
As of today, the Panthers are just three points out of a playoff spot. They might not be in the running for a championship, but they're in the hunt -- a vast improvement over the past few seasons that saw them feeding from the bottom of the league at the same time the Miami Heat had been the focus of NBA admiration.
This past summer, they reacquired Roberto Luongo, a world-class goaltender who is worth seeing play live. The team also boasts 22-year-old Nick Bjugstad, a six-foot-six forward who has been the team's star this season with 12 goals in 26 games. And there's also 18-year-old defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft, who has so far proven why he was the first kid picked for the NHL this past summer. A big, smooth-skating d-man who can defend his own zone and contribute to offense -- he's currently third in rookie scoring and bests the next rookie defender in scoring by six points.
This is a young team looking to give its youth time on the ice to improve but also manages to not completely suck. That's commendable. And also worth seeing in person.
4. There's a cool bar with delicious beer.
Put down that aluminum bottle of Bud Light and have a little class at the Miami Brew Co. bar, where you can get a glass of Big Rod Coconut Ale, Shark Bait Mango Wheat, and less fruity concoctions like regular ol' IPAs and stouts. Sure, the prices are a tad high -- $12 for a small, $16 for a large -- but you paid only $20 for a ticket and you parked for free at Target while getting wasted off Yellowtail, so splurge for a second.
Also, the bartenders are extremely nice and will let you sample the beers, including that coconut beer experiment thing they have going on there. Hey, you might like it.
5. If you don't go, the team probably will leave forever.
Joking about the dismal attendance numbers at Florida Panthers games has become such a cliché by now, it's almost mean to make fun of all the empty seats at the BB&T Center -- kinda like making fun of a neglected child whose parents never come to watch his games.
But let's be honest: The Panthers' attendance is downright terrible. The team officially has the absolute worst attendance in the NHL by a mile. It averages 8,849 people in the building when it plays -- almost 2,000 seats fewer than the Carolina Hurricanes, who, despite being a bad team south of the Mason-Dixon Line, still manage to get about 11,000 seats filled.
Panthers execs claim they're not looking to relocate, but we all know a pro sports team can't be sustained selling only half its arena's seats. And since Canada's economy sucks less than ours, there are several really cold cities with hockey-loving people who are oh-so-thirsty to take the Panthers away.
You and only you can help prevent Canadians from being happy by going to a Panthers game.
Do it. You'll help save South Florida's hockey team and also get to finally bypass Ticketmaster's dictatorial fees for once in your life.
Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:
E-mail him at Ray.Downs@browardpalmbeach.com.
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