PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Tickets to the Winter Classic Alumni Game went on sale Friday morning, and less than 10 minutes later, the tickets were gone. That left a lot of hockey fans very unhappy.
The Winter Classic will be played on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field between the Penguins and Washington Capitals.
But the morning before, on New Year’s Eve, the National Hockey League is allowing a special alumni hockey game that will feature Mario Lemieux and other Hall of Fame players.
The $25 tickets went on sale Friday and, no surprise, they were gone almost as fast as they became available.
At 10 a.m. on Friday morning, Julia Johnson. of Baldwin. went online at Ticketmaster to get tickets to take her boyfriend to the game.
“He’s a huge Pens’ fan and the chance to get to see Mario Lemieux play would just be amazing. The ticket prices were only $25. You couldn’t pass it up,” she said.
However, every time she tried to buy tickets, she got this message: “They told me the tickets weren’t available, an exact match did not exist, maybe I could try again.”
“I remember looking at the clock on my computer because it was 10 o’clock, 10:01,” she said.
Other fans, like Chris Fisch of Moon, were more successful by telephone.
“I initially called the main number and it was busy. I tried it twice, busy signal,” he said. “This was at 9:58, and then I tried the express number, which is an automated system. I got through just fine.”
Fisch got his tickets; but by 10:08, nobody was getting anything. Part of the problem was that too few tickets were made available.
Heinz Field has seats for 68,000 people, and the Penguins told KDKA’s Jon Delano that they asked for more seats for this game. But in the end, the National Hockey League said, only sell 10,000.
The small number was not only disappointing to many, but it created an immediate mark-up in the $25 tickets. Prices on eBay were more than $250 per ticket, even $1,800 for four by 10:35 a.m.
“It’s like they’re people who are buying up tickets who aren’t really going to the game,” said Johnson. “It just doesn’t seem fair to the people who want to participate in it.”
That’s true, but there’s no law against it.
An NHL spokesman says the limit on tickets was simply a matter of timing. The NHL has never done a public event on the day before the Winter Classic, so this is a first.
Also, because the Steelers play on Dec. 23, the NHL has a much shorter time to construct an ice arena.
The alumni game puts production on hold, and the NHL says it wants to make sure everything is perfect for the real game on New Year’s Day.