Today, on May 6, the Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship starts in the two Russian cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. While the attendance seems to be quite good in rich Moscow, in St. Petersburg, hosting Group B games including the U. S.A, Canada and Finland, the teams may face a lot of empty seats.

$270 for good seat to see USA- Canada

The reason is high prices for tickets established by the International Ice Hockey Federation who used as a benchmark the price for the last year’s championship tickets held in Prague. One twitter user shared her experience of trying to buy a ticket for the opening USA – Canada game.

It ended up in her finding a ticket for 18,000 rubles (about $270) for a good seat. That’s a huge sum for the city where the average monthly salary is just twofold higher, at 37.500 rubles according to the local office for statistics.

Prices experiencing boom; thewhole country experiencing crisis

All the tickets were divided into three price categories, but for some games only two first categories, the most and medium expensive respectively, were available. Interestingly, the third category provides only a 70 percent limited view of the arena, so the 3rd-class visitors will not be able to see a lot of interesting moments. The first class seats were priced at 4,500 rubles which are too high given the average salary of even high-paid employees living in a country experiencing a negative circle of economic development.

Falling oil global prices have already forced Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut defense spending for 2016 and freeze or reduce some social benefits.

“Why are tickets so expensive?”, asked a user of the Vkontakte social network, “Only afew people can afford them. Is it what’s being called “the promotion of sport in Russia?" The comparison with the Western countries cannot be applied here, as they have much higher incomes there.

Former Detroit’s defenseman Fetisov also blames prices

To tell the truth, today’s opening between USA-Canada has been sold out, but other games will hardly attract enough visitors to fill a 12,300-seat arena in St. Petersburg. Nine days before the start of the tournament only 45 percent of tickets had been sold according to the organizational committee.

Given the fact that Russian team matches had been sold out, one can easily calculate that for the rest of the games the percentage is even lower.

The only exception may be the Finland national team that will be supported by a 7,000-strong fan army who arrived in St. Petersburg. Travel time between St. Petersburg and Finland’s capital Helsinki is just 3,5 hours by train.

The outrage was supported by many people famous in the world of ice hockey. Viacheslav Fetisov, Olympic champion, and Stanley Cup winner (he played with New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings and worked as assistant coach for New Jersey Devils) said in an interview that establishing high prices was a wrong move. He went on to say that the game is very popular and the "world championship" is a kind of promotional outlet for the sport.

He pointed out that most of the "successful players are guys from normal families, not rich ones." He felt that the more people that could be attracted to the sport, then the greater were their chances of "pursuing our great traditions”.

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