Sports fans shocked by COVID-caused ticket increase

To describe the Kasmar family as keen Sea Eagles fans is a bit like saying Jimi Hendrix could strum a few chords.

This is a family that has spent tens of thousands travelling all around the country - and to New Zealand - following Manly through the good and bad times. They clad their Frenchs Forest home in maroon and white whenever the Sea Eagles make a grand final and put birthdays, weddings and anniversaries on hold to attend games.

But for the first time in 27 years, the Kasmar clan won't be at Brookvale Oval this season.

The cost of securing a reserved seat in the Ken Arthurson Stand has almost doubled, from $362 last year to around $600 this year if you attend every home game. Prices in other areas of the ground have also gone up. There's eight Manly tragics in the Kasmar family and they can't justify forking out close to five grand despite their devotion to the cause. Other rusted-on fans are also voting with their wallets and staying away.

The Sea Eagles said the price hike was unavoidable due to restricted seating at the ground - courtesy of Covid and the new Centre of Excellence.

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"I totally understand they have limited seating due to the renovations and like a lot of businesses they suffered last year, but it feels like we are copping the brunt of that," Deb Kasmar said. "My dad has been going to Brookie since the 50s and this year will be the first time he won't be attending. He and my mum are pensioners and they can't afford it. We are really upset. We love how we can all go together as a big family as these moments don't last forever."

Manly chairman and owner Scott Penn sympathises with the fans' plight but insists the increases are justified. "We have done everything we can to keep ticket prices as low as possible. The reality is that we have a full cost base to open the stadium, including venue hire, game day staff, security etc," Penn told us from his New York base. "With 25 per cent capacity, we are actually making a loss every game. The price increases are modest and to be fair if we went the same way as concert pricing and did demand pricing, they would be much higher."

CEO Stephen Humphreys added: "The restricted size of crowds has (had) a massive financial impact on the club. With this in mind, we have moved to an alternative membership and ticketing model for the 2021 season."

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