Do you need to make NHL money to afford Leafs tickets?

September 18, 2018 | Gary Weatherup


How much do Toronto Maple Leafs season tickets cost? Can you afford them? Do you need to make NHL money to go to a Leafs game?

Gary Weatherup Financial Planner

I'm on the Maple Leafs season ticket waiting list. Yes there is one and no it doesn't matter. I remember faxing in my info just after the lockout, figuring in 87 years when my number was pulled I could afford them. Oh naive me... I didn't realize how it actually worked.

It is possible RIGHT NOW for you to bypass the list provided you are willing to write a cheque with a 'big number'. I'm going to do my best to quantify what that actually means.

In order to do this, I'm going to make some basic assumptions.

  • Because the Leafs landed the biggest free agent available on the market in the offseason, I am assuming you'll go to every game this year (41 games - not including exhibition games)
  • You'll want to bring a friend/family member, so you'll need a pair of tickets
  • You'll take the TTC/GO train down so you can partake in 1-2 beverages
  • You'll want to be close to the action so I assumed golds (earmuffs kids!!)
  • These numbers aren't perfect but they are a pretty accurate picture of what you're looking at

Let's begin:

1. You'll need to get two season ticket licenses - i.e. the RIGHT to buy your seats each year

  • Yes this exists. The easiest way to do this is through a broker - a simple google search will pull up a list of options. These agents act on behalf of current season ticket holders who opt to sell their licenses vs. returning them to the Leafs (which is why the season ticket list doesn't move).
  • Looking at Team Licenses - a pair of gold tickets will run you between $150,000 and $200,000 plus HST. There are also additional brokerage fees of a few hundred more to do the paperwork with MLSE.
  • This is your biggest upfront cost - keep in mind, these values rise and fall with the team/economy. In bad markets/bad teams, these can be found for much less. However 'much less' needs some context.... 5 years ago you could get a pair for around $75K plus HST.
  • Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but if you can't cut a straight cheque for seat licenses, you shouldn't be buying them.
  • With that being said:
    • Assuming a purchase price of  $175,000, we'd be looking at an all-in bill of around $200,000 ($175K + HST + a couple of hundred for paperwork)
    • Using a 4% opportunity cost - you'd be looking at $7,920 in yearly 'costs'. We count this money because you're losing investment return potential on the upfront capital. You could also use this number as a secured financing estimate if you were foolish enough to borrow money to buy the tickets.
    • Dividing $7,920 by 41 = $193.17 per game

2. Buying the actual tickets each year

  • Leaf season tickets don't provide a big discount vs. their face value. So what you see on your ticket isn't much more than what you'll pay as a season ticket holder.
  • Tickets are tiered based on who the team is playing. This is a change from a few years back when all games were priced the same. Montreal on a Saturday ($962 for a pair) is always going to be more expensive than Florida on a Thursday ($548).
  • In aggregate assuming 41 home games and 4 exhibition matches, you're looking at around $28,000 EACH SEASON for a pair of golds.
  • Cost per game $682.93 ($28K/41 games)

3. Getting to the game

  • I live in Toronto, traffic is horrible. Take the TTC or GO train if you can. For simple math, I'm going to assume a $25 spend. This could cover parking reasonably close to the arena or two public transit fares. 

4. "I'm hungry"

  • Food estimate $50/game average. There will be games where people partake in more $15 sandwiches (ugh), others where a simple bottle of water will suffice. Yes this is probably low balling, but I needed to be on 'budget' somewhere.

5. The Math

So what is it going to take to make this happen? Adding it all up:
Seat License Opportunity Cost/Financing: $193.17
Actual Tickets: $682.93
Transportation: $25.00
Food: $50.00
Total: $951.10 per game

If we multiply $951.10 by the 41 games, we're looking at $38,995.10 per season for TWO tickets. If we wanted to pay for this without a huge amount of stress, we'd need roughly 25 times that amount in an investment portfolio (based on a 4% withdrawal rate). 25 times the $38,995.10 is........ $974,877.50!

Don't forget our $198K to buy the tickets, so that gets added on - $1,172,877.50... Nevermind the taxes payable on the investment portfolio or the fact that Leaf tickets typically rise by more than inflation. Ouch...

Finally as a fun fact... to make $1,172,877.50 NET in Ontario, you need to clear $2.45M gross, that in USD is $1.86M... With his performance bonus added onto his entry level deal, Mitch Marner is set to make $1.744M USD this year... Maybe next year Mitch, maybe next year :)

Before commenting, YES these are for golds, YES I assumed you won't sell any of your tickets. I will be writing another article on your options (Stubhub fees anyone?).



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Stay Tuned,

Gary Weatherup, CFP
Finucci Wealth Management Group


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