Last spring I had a little spreadsheet exercise for football fans, how much would you save if there was an NFL lockout? Our household total came in at about $3,700, which is probably in the middle-high end of the fan spending spectrum while still well shy of the amount fans who buy season tickets or travel to multiple games would have saved if the NFL lockout had come to fruition.

Looking back on the spreadsheet and our bank statements from last year, my estimate was low by a couple of hundred bucks, all in the entertaining and going out to watch games lines, which even I acknowledged I low-balled at the time. Still, the estimated amount was within the ballpark of actual expenditures, so the exercise had some merit.

As summer rolled along and the NHL and the NHLPA barreled down the road towards a lockout, I kept thinking about my little savings document. I never doubted that the 2012-2013 NHL season would start under a lockout, but I couldn’t bring myself to update the spreadsheet for potential hockey savings until this week, partially due to laziness, partially because of feelings of,  “Welp, there you go. Oh well.” Because sadly, during a lockout (or a strike for that matter) that’s all you can do. It doesn’t matter if you support the players or the owners or if you get mad about revenue your city is losing by not having games in the arenas you subsidize, you cannot control this particular aspect of the business.

What you can do is decide what you’re going to do with the money you’re going to save without hockey.

Again, I didn’t include items like a new TV which are often included in fan spending on this spreadsheet, mostly because I view electronics as a whole home purchase. This time I did include our Sirius/XM subscription because we do use it for mostly for hockey while on road trips and while commuting home from work during the season, but I prorated the amount because I also listen to that crazy pet guy on the Martha Stewart Channel and Cinemagical online. I also added a line for extended cable channels, as NBC Sports and the NHL Network are additional tiers on our DirecTV subscription at a cost of about $20 a month over the basic offerings and of course, they’re on two separate tiers. Of course they are. According to my Canadian friend, it’s a similar setup up north for purchasing the various TSN channels aside of the Canadian Centre Ice.

We already save some by not buying the Center Ice package, since our favorite team usually drops the puck back east while we’re still working at four o’clock Pacific, but we also go out for more games during the playoffs, so those numbers are probably a wash. And unlike going to Steeler games where we have to spend a couple of days going to Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego or Northern California, we’re usually able to head to one or two Pens games a season at Staples Center or down at the Pond in Anaheim, cutting down costs on hotel rooms and related travel costs.

Our savings with an NHL lockout? $1,880, and I think that number is soft. I lowered the bar bill amounts under protest from my husband. (I sign the bar tabs, they’re higher.)

I asked a friend who is a season ticket holder what he thought his savings would be with a lockout and he pegged it in the $4000-$4500 range, while another friend in Midwest who travels to one or two games a year said he’d probably save about $600-$700.

Nic from PSAMP is a part of a rather large and legendary Penguins group that takes over Foley’s in New York City every season and when I asked him about his possible savings without hockey, he sent me this detailed breakdown:

Here’s just for the Foley’s crowd:

We normally do 3 or so meetups a month October through January. More like once a week Feb-March. April is about 2 meetups of regular season since it ends early in the month. That averages to about 22 meetups a year. A normal game consists of getting a bucket of beer (15 bucks, 5 Yuenglings) and something to eat (I enjoy the Juicy Lucy burger and fries, roughly 11 bucks) and tip. I tip well there because I know the waitresses and the bartenders and owner. For a 26 dollar bill I’ll tip to make it 40 even. So 54% tip. 40 bucks X 22 meetups is 880 bucks a regular season.

Playoffs: We meet at Foley’s for every game. In the past 5 years of running this group, the Pens have made the Finals twice (4 rounds each year, 8 total), 2nd round once (2 rounds) and 1st round twice (2 rounds total). 12 rounds in 5 years averages to 2.4 rounds a year. They’ve played 70 games in 5 years, so the average is 14 games played per playoff appearance. They’ve averaged 22 games the 2 years they went to the Finals in a row. If the Pens make an average playoff run, it’ll be another 560 bucks. Should they make the Finals, that doubles the regular season to another 880 bucks. I’m not counting in victory shots or any other drinks that may be ordered should there be an elongated overtime or anything.

Subway is 2.25 per trip, 4.50 round trip. 162 bucks for regular season and an average playoff run. 198 bucks for a Finals push.

We also organize a few trips to Long Island or Jersey to catch the Pens. Pittsburgh plays away at both 3 times a year. If we organize 2 trips to each place a season, that’ll be roughly 30 bucks for a seat (depending on the crowd we bring and the deal we can get on seats with the ticket reps at each place, 30 bucks seems pretty middle of the road). Say maybe a beer per period (we’ll keep estimates low) at 8 bucks a beer (again, low estimate) and that’s 54 bucks a game. Again, this is low estimate. Seats can be upwards of 45 bucks in the upper tier if we’re getting a group together. And if people wanna drink more, that’s their money. Getting back and forth will either be Long Island Railroad to the Islanders or New Jersey Transit or PATH train to Newark. PATH is 5 bucks round trip. Jersey Transit is probably closer to 10 bucks round trip from New York Penn Station to Newark Penn Station. LIRR is similar to NJ Transit, so we;ll say another 20 bucks on travel per season, aka 55 bucks per game, 128 bucks for 2 games at one location, 256 bucks for 2 games at both NJ and NYI.

That’s $2214 to watch a handful of games a month at a bar and 4 games in the metro area, if the Pens make a Finals push. $1858 if it’s an average playoff run.

And this isn’t figuring in beer and all at home.

That’s a fair chunk of change for someone that’s not a season ticket holder.

So how much will you save?

Select “Click to edit” and the tab for “Lockout Savings Blank Template” to enter your own spending habits. Use the average amount you spend on any one item and enter the number of times a season you spend that amount. I’ve also posted our spreadsheet data as a guide to follow if you need it.

Don’t worry, I cannot see what you enter and none of this data is being saved anywhere. But please, feel free to say in the comments what your total savings came out to be and what you might do with your newly found money this fall if there is a lockout.

Let me know if you think there should be any additional lines added, and I throw it in the calculations.

Therapy for Leafs fans is probably covered under the Canadian health care system so I left that part off the sheet, but maybe someone has a suggestion for anger management classes for Flyer fans or for Instagram access costs for Kings followers.


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Related: How much would you save with an NFL lockout?

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5 Responses to How much will you save if there is an NHL lockout?

  1. Clare A says:

    I came up with $800, mostly game tickets, parking, and concessions. But I’m keeping in mind that a lot of the money I am not giving the NHL, I will be giving the AHL. That’s money I would NOT be spending if there weren’t a lockout. They haven’t yet set AHL Live pricing, but it’s generally more expensive than NHL GameCenterLive. And team merchandise is generally pricier as well. Also, I doubt that we’ll simply not do stuff with the kids on those nights we used to go to games, so I don’t know that I’d count that as “savings” as much as substitution–paying for things I wouldn’t otherwise do instead of paying for the thing I *want* to do. It’s only savings if it gives me money to do things I was planning to do anyway, or things I wanted to do but couldn’t afford before. Otherwise it’s simply substituting one expense for another. I’m not sure I said that very clearly, but I think I’m gonna be losing money on this deal.

    • sarah sprague says:

      No, that makes sense and it’s a fair point.

      I don’t live anywhere near an AHL team, so going to those games is not really an option for us. As far as other entertainment options, movie tickets are cheaper than hockey tickets and I doubt we’ll go out to watch more Premier League, NBA or NFL games than we already do. Talking to my husband, if anything, we’ll have more time on the weekends for stuff we feel like don’t do enough of; hiking, biking, going to the beach. Fortunately, those things are relatively inexpensive compared to NHL fandom.

      (Although my bike desperately, needs a new chain. I should figure that part in.)

  2. […] SARAH SPRAGUE: Provides a nifty spreadsheet to calculate how much money you’ll save if there’s an NHL lockout. […]

  3. […] how I found out: I went to this brilliant interactive chart the lovely Sarah Sprague made, put in all my numbers (I tried to be conservative about it by not including any playoff tickets […]

  4. JohnnyBGoode says:

    I would probably throw about $250 for drinks bought at the bar while watching the game

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