So, you like the Leafs to make the Stanley Cup finals this year?
Okay, let's put the willing suspension of disbelief at work here, and take a look at the options market on sports tickets established by Ticket Reserve, where as of this writing it costs you $40 to acquire an option on a pair of Maple Leafs Game 1 home tickets in next spring's Stanley Cup finals:
Opening prices for ticket options are set by the company based on a team's likelihood of success. Once an option is purchased, it can be traded as the season progresses, with Ticket Reserve taking a 7 to 10 percent cut on every transaction. If a fan holds Forwards for a team that gets knocked out of the running, he forfeits his money. As soon as the teams in the big event are determined, the market closes and everyone with eligible Forwards is charged face value for the tickets.
The system works much like futures markets for stocks or frozen pork bellies, with one big difference: The customers have emotional investments in what they're buying. Chicago resident Vincent Schideman bought options to watch his hometown Bears play in the Super Bowl - an unlikely scenario when he bought the options that became much more plausible as the season progressed - though he didn't have much luck with his Forwards for the Cubs. "I always bet with my heart, never with my mind," Schideman admits.
Thanks to Brad at the Sports Economist for the tip.