Adam Smith sure seemed like a guy with good intentions, believing we are all born with an innate moral sense and that the happiness of others is utmost important, even if it comes with no financial gain to ourselves.
My goodness. The father of modern capitalism sure never saw professional sports coming.
Welcome to simple economics in the world of fun and games, where markets fail to be competitive based on assorted displays of ownership power, where the overnight success of an expansion hockey team can drastically alter who is allowed to purchase tickets.
Las Vegas wanted major league professional sports in the most passionate manner for decades, and yet for all the good and positive ways they have and will benefit the town, such a presence comes with this reality: Private individuals will make final decisions about the distribution of goods, and you as the consumer don’t have a damn thing to say about it.
We have seen it with the exorbitant personal seat licenses being charged by the Raiders for the NFL stadium set to open in 2020, and now, in a different and yet no less direct fashion, the Golden Knights and their decision to reportedly cancel several hundred season ticket accounts because of patrons reselling tickets and allowing visiting team’s fans to at times have a significant presence at T-Mobile Arena.
It’s ironic, no? Not too long ago — translation: Before the Improbable Season — a major selling point made by the Knights was the sort of economic impact the NHL could deliver to Las Vegas, that visiting fans would circle their team’s game here and make the trip to fill hotels and bars and attend games.
But a certain thing happened on the way to such a kumbaya existence, and the reason folks are now losing their tickets is the same one fans were credentialed as media, the truth that no one from the organization (or anywhere) ever imagined the Knights would produce such a high level of success so fast.
Supply and demand, whether it’s about which specific butts you want in those seats or who you allow to cover your team to gain publicity, is alive and thriving.
So while those selling season tickets for the Knights before last season pushed multiple-year plans no matter the location of those buying and fully understood many would dispose parts of their allotment on a secondary market, the fact Vegas didn’t offer a typical losing expansion campaign changed everything.
Success often does.
It’s business. It’s not pretty. It can certainly be construed as greedy and against the spirit of what were implied original agreements between seller and buyer, but what is happening with the Knights is no different than what occurs all across the pro sports spectrum.
Perception is reality
This is a byproduct of winning. The market will bear what it bears and — right now — the Knights know well they can do no wrong in the eyes of most. See the thousands of names on waiting lists for tickets.
But know this: The Knights are also not immune to history, and there will absolutely come a time when they aren’t division champions and playoff darlings and social media isn’t all abuzz about parties with dogs wearing team gear.
Maybe it’s this season or next or in five years. It will happen.
Perception is still reality, and while this might ultimately prove just a minuscule dent in the beloved armor of the Golden Knights (if that), it’s not the greatest look.
It’s why UNLV basketball, once so incredibly popular, announces crowds in excess of thousands more than are actually sitting in Thomas & Mack Center, why there were over 150,000 at a NASCAR race 10 years ago and now the Las Vegas Motor Speedway struggles to draw 80,000.
That’s this town. That’s the message sent during down times.
The Knights are sitting on top right now, and all that small print and legalities on season ticket agreements affords them the right to cancel season tickets and resell them for a higher profit.
They’re not breaking any laws, but they have broken the spirit of some folks.
I’m not sure if that matters to the Knights. I’m not even sure it should.
Such is simple economics in the real world. It’s harsh.
Heck, even a brilliant guy like Adam Smith would have his tickets canceled, because the last thing the Knights would put up with is some guy from the 1700s wearing a Scottish National League sweater inside T-Mobile Arena.
I mean, how could Marc-Andre Fleury focus with that sight …
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.