Lukewarm hockey championship ticket sales in Latvia

The world ice hockey championship will start on Friday, with Latvia hosting the tournament together with the Finnish city of Tampere. Unlike the championship in Rīga in 2021 during the pandemic, this time spectators will be allowed to attend in person; however, ticket sales are not going very well, Latvian Radio reported May 10.

The organizer's representative, Edgars Buncis, said on Tuesday at the meeting of the Saeima Sports Sub-Committee that 105,000 out of 240,000 tickets available have been sold – less than half.

The cheapest tickets for nine euros are available for, for example, the Kazakhstan-Slovenia game, which is probably less interesting for the audience than the duel between Latvia and any other team. Attending a Latvian game will cost at least €50 to the interested parties.

Organizers say they need more sales to earn back the costs of the championship. The highest income base is earmarked from ticket revenues. Sports fans in the world usually buy tickets in a timely manner, but in Latvia, it is customary to do so at the last moment.

For a long time even the Latvian-Canadian game to take place on Friday was not sold out. Now it has been sold out, but for the game between Latvia and Norway on May 17, only about one-third of the tickets have been sold. 

According to Latvian Radio, it is difficult to obtain information about the financial structure of the championship from the organizers, but it was presented in the Sports Sub-Committee of the Saeima that the championship will provide a contribution of EUR 48 million to the Latvian economy, EUR 9.8 million in taxes, while the overall championship budget will be EUR 7.7 million. If ticket sales continue at the current pace, it will eventually lose about EUR 1.5 million.

Buncis previously told Latvian Radio that the financial conduct of the championship depends largely on the availability of state funding. If ticket sales do not perform so well and there is no funding from the country, it is likely that there will be a debt that Latvian hockey will have to cover from future income. On May 1, without State aid, the shortage to keep the championship at zero balance was around €1.5 million. The Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) would have to cover the shortfall from future state money allocations.

At the meeting of the Saeima Sports Sub-Committee, MPs asked why the organizers did not use the balance of approximately €800,000 from the 2021 championship, where the state contributed more than five million euros and the rest was covered by the International Hockey Federation for approximately €10 million. Buncis said after the meeting on Latvian Radio that the organizers will repay all in good faith "if the State requests it back". 

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