Montreal Canadiens fans who cherish the annual arrival of their season tickets got an unwelcome surprise when the team announced recently it would be charging extra for printed tickets.
Canadiens spokesman Francois Marchand confirmed that the default option will be mobile tickets and fans who want physical tickets will be charged $150 plus tax per seat.
A letter to season ticket-holders cited security, ease of use and environmental sustainability as reasons for the change.
Marchand said that no senior front-office staff were available to comment on the decision because of summer vacations.
But some fans were annoyed by the change.
Will Shead, a lifelong Habs fan, said he was on a waiting list for 10 years until he got a season ticket for the first time last year. The box that came with the season tickets made it feel that much more special to him.
"I’m a little disappointed in it … for me it’s quite a contrast from my first year," said Shead, who shares his season tickets with his brother.
"Last year we got this nice box of tickets for free. Now it’s like, ‘Oh no, you have to pay for what you got for free last year."’
Beyond enjoying the physical tickets, Shead said it also makes it more complicated to share with friends and family.
He said he’ll still pay for the physical tickets, even though the surcharge is a significant portion of what he forked over for his nosebleed tickets.
A platinum season ticket for the 2016-17 season cost $9,564 before tax while the cheapest ticket sold for $1,795.
While other teams do offer mobile ticket options, not all charge for physical tickets.
A Toronto Maple Leafs spokesman said they currently don’t charge for physical tickets, and say they won’t make a change without talking to fans first.
"We’re taking a measured approach, watching the landscape and how it affects our fans," said David Haggith, a spokesman for Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs.
"Whatever we do about hard ticket stock will be after a conversation we’re having with our fans. We’ll make an informed decision."
A Calgary Flames spokesman also said that they offer both mobile and physical options, but don’t charge for the paper option. An Ottawa Senators spokesman also said they don’t charge for paper season tickets.