Monday, January 12, 2009

Playing Below Capacity: Los Angeles Kings

And here is the second edition of Playing Below Capacity, where we will focus on the Los Angeles Kings, who rank 23rd in Attendance Percentage Capacity in the league. The Kings currently lead the NHL with 27 home games thus far as of today, which is three more than anyone else. They have only sold out seven of these games, but five of those sellouts have come in the past five games. The first edition was on the New Jersey Devils, who are just above them at 22, in case you missed it. This will follow the same format as the previous one. With all that said, lets take a look at the Kings.*

*Warning: Please remember that I'm a young college kid who really doesn't know what he's talking about. Any "problems" that I suggest the Kings have are my opinion and are most likely not that accurate. Also, any information I used can easily be found on the Internet as I am a typical lazy college kid. With that said, enjoy.

Here are the ideas I came up with that could be problems with getting people to go to Kings game on a regular basis...
  • Arena Location/Age
  • High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events
  • City Population
  • Financial Issues in Los Angeles, CA (location of Arena)
  • On Ice Product
  • Location/History of Franchise
So before we really start, lets take a look at some basic facts of the LA Kings (all information taken from their wikipedia page, click here):
  • The Kings were founded in 1967 when Jack Kent Cooke was awarded an NHL Franchise the year earlier.
  • The Kings have only won their division once, in the 1990-1991 season. They have only gotten past the second round of the playoffs once as well, when they won the Western Conference Championship in 1992-1993, but then losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final in five games.
  • The Kings began playing at The Forum in Inglewood, California, before moving to the new Staples Center, which opened for the 1999 NHL and NBA seasons.
  • The Staples Center for Ice Hockey is said to be 18,118 (Wikipedia)
Let the fun begin...

- Arena Location/Age

With the Staples Center turning only a decade old in October of this year, I doubt the Staples Center is much of an issue for attracting fans. The Staples center is actually the 5th youngest arena in the Western Conference, only older than Columbus, Phoenix, Dallas, and Minnesota (Colorados' Pepsi Center also opened in 1999). And being located in Downtown Los Angeles, I think the only problem with that would be traffic getting in and out of the city if one was to commute regularly to games from outside of the city. Still, it shouldn't be that bad.

- High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events

According to, the Kings average ticket price is up 2.7 % this season to $47.20, putting the Kings about $2.50 below the NHL average of $49.66 (all from here). Their average premium ticket price is $105.24, which hasn't changed in the last three years, and is about $8 below the NHL average of $113.44 ( This is looking good thus far. The Kings have not raised their average premium ticket price the past couple of seasons, when they easily could have, and they are staying modest with the average ticket prices for the casual fan. I don't see anything quite wrong here.

Now lets remember, ranks its NHL list by what they call the Fan Cost Index, The FCI:
comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.
For the 2008-2009 season, the LA Kings rank 14th in FCI, which means the group of four drops about $281.31, which is roughly $70. Costly? Somewhat. The good thing about this is that going to a weekend game with an average ticket price from the Kings, assuming that you're not driving across country to see the game; the group of four could keep their costs under a $100 for the night. That is very doable. Now the Kings' FCI is up 3.3% from last season, but is still under the NHL Average FCI of $288.23, which in general is up 5.5% from last season.

So the tickets aren't all bad, how about some deals, though? If you venture to the Kings website and click on "Discounted Offers" under the "Tickets" tab, you find their four main deals:
  1. Hockey Night Out - "Enjoy a great night with friends, food, fun and hockey. Pack includes two (2) tickets, two (2) nachos and two (2) beers starting at only $53, a savings of over $26! Upgrade to the lower level for just $115.50."
  2. All You Can Eat - "The All U Can Eat Pack includes a ticket to the Kings game and all you can eat hot dogs, nachos, peanut, popcorn and soda starting at just $27 for all Monday games ($36 for all games)! All U Can Eat Seats are available for EVERY game!
    Click here to purchase ($36)...and take advantage of our All U Can Eat Value Mondays ($27) ."
  3. Family Pack - "Starting at only $21 a person, receive 1 ticket, 1 hot dog and 1 soda. Receive 1 free parking pass for every 4 tickets purchased!"
  4. College Nights (photo displays price of $10) - "Discounted tickets available online or at STAPLES Center Box Office with college ID on game nights and during regular business hours."
Good deals appealing to many different demographics. I wouldn't say LA is leading the pack here, but they are doing their part for sure.

- City Population

The Kings do not have an issue here. Los Angeles is populated with just under 4 million people and has a Metro Population a shade under 13 Million ( What else can I say? L.A. is the second largest city with an NHL franchise in the league, with its nearest rival being Chicago, who still trials them by a million within the city and 3 million in the Metro.

- Financial Issues of Los Angeles

Once again, everyone is hurting due to the latest recession, but as of 2007 the Los Angeles combined statistical area has a gross metropolitan product of just under $700 billion, putting the area second to New York City in the Western Hemisphere (Wikipedia). This includes much of the suburbs and smaller cities around LA, but I'd bet a good amount that a solid portion of that figure is from either directly or within 20 miles of LA.

- On Ice Product

The Kings have not made the playoffs since the 2001-2002 season, and have made the playoffs 23 times in their 40 completed seasons. But, as I mentioned earlier, have only made it past the second round once, and only to the Stanley Cup Finals once as well, falling to the Canadiens (Wikipedia). On the upside, the Kings management has slowly began building a team for the future. Out of the 26 players on the Kings roster, only 7 of those players are aged 30 or older, with no players at the ages of 27 through 29 (Wikipedia). Personally, their biggest concern is goaltending, where two young goaltenders may need a couple of seasons to pan out. Either way, the Kings have a 24 year old Captain in Dustin Brown; and if they are able to keep their young core, the Kings should be able to break out of last place in the Pacific.

- Location/History of Franchise

Southern California isn't exactly a hockey haven, but there are very competitive youth hockey programs that do well in USA Hockey's National Championships year in and year out (from my experience reading USA Hockey Magazine). They are also very heavy into Roller Hockey, where it is seemingly easier to play due to Southern California's climate.

The Kings haven't had a very winning past, but you can't say they haven't been successful. They played host to the Great One (Wayne Gretzky) from 1988 to 1996, and had some of their best years during his stay. In general, a couple of consecutive runs deep into the playoffs would really grow the fan base, but they still draw well considering their place in the standings recently.

- Conclusion

The Kings are easily the safest team of all the teams playing below capacity. They are 12th on Forbes' NHL Team Valuations, coming in with at $210 million along with a revenue of $91 million and an operating income of $1.2 million. With all this good, they do have a substantial amount of debt over their value, which is 87 %. But, ever since the lockout, their revenue and overall value has risen every year (all from Forbes).

So what can the Kings do? Honestly, after looking at it all, I think most of it comes down to the on ice product. This season, they are averaging a shade under 16,000 a night (ESPN), but their last five home games have all been sellouts, with a total of seven on the season (My Excel Graph). Not bad for a last place team in the Pacific division. I think in two seasons the Kings will be a force to be reckoned with, and more and more seats will be filled night in and night out at the Staples Center.

So there is the second division of my little series here at my little blog. Once again, I will look it over and see what I can do next time. I hope you enjoyed the read. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the article.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this! You have been very thorough in your research and I so do appreciate that.

    As a devout Kings fan, I'm always amazed at the excessive number of empty seats on any given game night. I have to disagree with your theory that the poor attendance comes down to the On-Ice Product, because when you love a team, you love a team whether they're kicking ass or sucking on ice. The biggest factor I see contributing to poor ticket sales is the complete and utter lack of marketing. I can hardly go a day without having the Lakers shoved in my face, and yet I rarely (if ever) hear or see ads for the Kings. Like you said, LA isn't exactly a hockey haven, so it would support the franchise to let the locals know that we DO have a team and going to games is a helluva lotta' fun!

    Also, as far as pricing goes, you have to tack on an extra $20 per car for parking. Those sneaky bastards...they know everyone drives in LA.

    I look forward to the day when the Kings are consistently selling out the Staples Center. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the shorter lines and more abundant parking spaces!