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View From the Top

BacPanthers owner Alan Cohen called me this morning, a little upset with my characterization of his hockey organization as greedy.

Cohen made it clear that the ticket hike for premium games was his idea, a plan to try and get fans of other teams to help pay for the Panthers' roster and offset some expenses.

To paraphrase, he says it's hard to make a "money grab" when the team is losing money.

"I have not raised ticket prices and have made sure our games are affordable,'' Cohen said. "But when fans of the Rangers, Canadians, Maple Leafs, whatever, come down here and fill our building, we should get a little more for it. This is being done to protect our ticket holders, our fans. Our fans can call up right now and buy a Fathers' Day package and not pay the extra money. Our tickets are a great deal and people know this.''

Cohen said he understands how some fans may be upset about paying the extra money to see the big-name teams, but adds mini-ticket plans are affordable, and fans can save money by buying those. And, he adds, there are plenty of other games on the schedule in which the extra $25 won't be added to ticket prices.

"We have people coming in here chanting 'Lets Go Rangers,' fans rooting for the Canadiens,'' Cohen said. "Let them pay for it. They are still going to snap up every ticket we have. We could have sold 30,000 tickets [for Montreal] last year.''

And like I wrote in my previous post, many fans of these teams are going to shell out the big bucks and be fine with it. Met a guy in Montreal who paid $700 for a ticket to see the Panthers on a Tuesday night. Guys like that will save money by flying down to Florida and picking up tickets at The Bank.

Your average Joe, however, is the one getting caught. Want to see Sidney Crosby live and in person? Better buy some kind of ticket plan now or you'll pay for it later. Still cheaper than seeing him live in Pittsburgh though.

Trust me, there are a lot of things the Panthers do that I don't much care for, this $25 surcharge being one of them. The constant ads, this game brought to you by Miramar Mike's Exterminating, etc. But I do understand this is how the Panthers feel they can survive in this very un-traditional hockey market.

At least the team is here, looking to continue to put down roots and not pack up moving vans.

Cohen isn't one of the owners calling Canada's Jim Basille seeing if he wants to buy the franchise and move it to Hamilton or Winnipeg or some other market north of Detroit. "We're losing money and I don't complain,'' Cohen said. "I just deal with it and hope it gets better in the future.''

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