Daniel Nichols – Season Ticket Prices Soar

The Cronulla Sharks released their 2014 membership packages yesterday, and have stated they are looking to increase on their 10,000 members from 2013. Despite the ASADA cloud hanging over the club, and reports in mainstream news suggesting the club may have to relocate in the future, the club is in a good spot. They finished 5th in the regular season this year and added a finals win to their successful season, and I would have thought that if Asada doesn’t tear the club apart, the membership numbers would naturally grow … until I saw the membership prices.

Just so everyone knows, I have been a Sharks member since I was 16 (am now 27) and have been a season ticket holder for 6 seasons. Last season I purchased a CSSC family membership for myself, my wife, my son, with a spare seat. I have now have a daughter to add to the clan so went to renew my family membership. Last season a single membership to the CSSC, which are the main supporters club of the Sharks, that sit on the 30 metre line in the concourse, was $280. A family pass was $500. As it was only another $40 for a further 2 passes, one of which my son sat on, was only $40, it made the family pass extremely good value.

This season a single CSSC season ticket is $385 whilst a family ticket is a whopping $985. That’s a $485 jump in a single season. The Sharks have tried to justify this by saying we now have 12 home games instead of 11 (one was taken to the Central Coast last season, the cost of entrance was not included in our season ticket). That’s a $105 for one extra game. Better hope that’s a damn good game.

I fully understand the Sharks are trying to maximise their earnings based on a stronger brand than they were in 2012 but the massive jump is unjustified. We Sharks fans have been through alot in the last few years, with not a whole lot to cheer for. 2013 looked like the year it would all turn around for the Sharks. They signed former NSW fullback Michael Gordon, NSW and Kangaroos mainstay Luke Lewis and the added exposure of Footy Show funny man Beau Ryan. Memberships were up, expectation was up and there was a genuine feeling a top 4 finish was within reach, but then it all came crashing down.

The “darkest day in sport” press conference went down and the Sharks were made the face of the scandal. Although no player has been charged yet, Sharks support staff lost their jobs or were stood down, and the dark cloud never really lifted. Despite the on field performances of the squad the stigma was always there. Although the Sharks have re-signed Todd Carney to a long term contract and have a squad amongst the best in the competition, it could all come crashing down.

Fans know this and were always going to be slightly hesitant to purchase memberships knowing the squad could be torn apart at any time. The new board of the Sharks have obviously not taken this into consideration when they put the prices up by such a huge amount. You’d also think the Sharks board would be looking to reward those who stuck by the club despite the Asada investigation. Instead members have been hit with a price rise of almost 100% on family tickets.

I’ve been a lifelong Sharks but I am under no illusion. We do not have a huge fan base, in fact reaching 10,000 members last season was something that should be celebrated for a long time to come. Crowds are usually around the 12,000 mark, which for a stadium that allows for crowds of 20,000 thousand plus, means games are unlikely to sell out. The crowds for games against the Dragons are usually around the 20,000 and when Souths or The Roosters are playing well, they attract a 15000 odd crowd. Seats are not at a huge premium in most games, so the huge price hike is not justified there.

I asked a few people on twitter what their clubs were asking for season tickets and it seems to be a trend that prices are increasing, but certainly not anywhere near the massive increase suffered to Sharks fans. Last season attendances were down across the board and polls in the major newspapers revealed that price of tickets and food were the main factors as to why. So what do clubs do? They put season ticket prices up. The Roosters won the title last year and could justify a price increase, they’re the best team in the competition, their brand is as high as it has been in the modern era and crowd numbers were well up. Members of the premiership club described the increase as “slight” … Sharks fans described the jump in prices as “insane”, “unjustified”, and “insulting”.

Here was a few quotes from twitter last night:

“I could understand a 3% increase. 15%-25% is ridiculous”

“Perhaps they have a plan for discounted promotions? Only thing I can think of?”

“Dan – the club needs to realise that not all fans are die – hards who will pay whatever they ask for. Families or new members will not be enticed to become members or renew at such high prices. It’s a real shame and puts us way behind our 2013 efforts.”

“ur guys are kidding ur selfs with the renewal prices! No membership next year!”

“its turned me off. That’s for sure”

Although I will probably give in eventually and purchase a season ticket, I will not be looking to a season pass. I have spoken to fans of multiple clubs and the Panthers seem to be the only club where prices went down. You have to applaud the Panthers for trying to lure new members to the club, especially season ticket holders. Members are the backbone of each and every club and I honestly don’t see the Sharks repeating their 10,000 members for 2014.

David Smith has talked about bringing the families back to rugby league. With a near 100% price increase on a family season ticket, the Sharks don’t seem to be following Mr. Smith’s directive.

Is this increase justified? Is it in line with other clubs? Anyone who has any info please reply to this. Maybe the Sharks are just going in line with every other club, but such a huge increase doesn’t seem right, especially considering the fact Asada don’t seem to be going away any time soon.

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