By Alex Norman

So, let me start this story by telling you that in the end, everything worked out. You don’t have to feel sorry for your favorite Knoxville sports columnist.

That would be me… Alex Norman.

So, I’m a big hockey fan, and try to go to games in Nashville any chance I get. It’s the closest NHL city, and the Predators have turned into a perennial playoff team. Last year they advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Nashville Predators have been in existence since 1998, and while hockey in the south will never bring with it the passion of hockey in the northern climates, Nashville has turned into a solid hockey town. Tickets can be acquired for a fraction of the cost if you wait until right after the puck drops too. The bars and restaurants and tourist shops are right outside Bridgestone Arena, so the entire experience can be a great one.

Anyway, the Predators open the playoffs this week. Last week I got an email from the team with the opportunity to purchase tickets to their first round home games. Thinking that this would be fun to see, I shelled out the $143 for two tickets to Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Didn’t know the day or the time or the opponent, but I would take the chance that it worked out with my schedule. In the event that it didn’t, I knew that I could always re-sell the tickets or give them away.

After all, Knoxville is a 2 ½ hour drive to Nashville.

So when I go onto my Ticketmaster account, I can’t find a place to print my tickets. Instead, I see a note that says, “Your ticket is your phone!”

This troubles me greatly, so I begin to text back and forth with a Ticketmaster representative. At this time I am told the following:

1) You can’t print your tickets.

2) You can’t transfer your tickets to a friend.

3) You can’t re-sell your tickets, even on the Ticketmaster re-selling service.

So I ask the representative what I supposed to do if I can’t get to the game, or if I’m there but my phone runs out of battery since, you know, my ticket is my phone.

The answer? “Sorry.”

The only idea they had was to give the person I was giving/selling the tickets to my Ticketmaster account information so they could then use their phone to gain entry to the game.

Sure thing. I’ll also hand out my credit card information and social security number while I’m at it. Great idea.

I’m not willing to chance the $143 on my schedule allowing me to get to the game. So then I have to call Ticketmaster directly now to try to get my money refunded. After 30 minutes, a resolution is reached. Ticketmaster and the Predators have a 3-day Return Policy, and in the fine print they mention nothing about exceptions being made for playoff games.

Understanding that they were stuck, the Ticketmaster representative said that since I had bought the tickets that same day (actually within that hour) they would refund the $143, and that includes the absurd fees. Facility charge, service fee, additional taxes… and a $4.95 processing fee! I later learned that only fans in the Predators viewing market are allowed to purchase tickets, and it has to be through Ticketmaster. You can’t even buy them in person at the box office!

The reason for the absurd rules regarding the tickets is because the Predators are trying to find every way possible to keep opposing fans out of the arena. They want to make sure they have as many Predators fans as possible in the building.

Nashville has built a solid foundation for hockey in the Capital City. There is no reason to play these kinds of games with the ticket buying public. So what if some Chicago Blackhawks fans get into your arena? Guess what? Those fans live amongst you. They aren’t all driving in from Illinois.

Nashville, you are better than this.