2010.11.08: In which we explore the possibility of taking out a sub-prime mortgage on the Scotiabank Place

We’ve all read the stories about the poor attendance at Sens games this year. In an attempt to draw spurious conclusions from anecdotal evidence, we here at The CCFR look thoughtfully into the mirror and ask, “Why am I more excited about buying Vanquish on Xbox 360 than tickets to see the Sens play the Thrashers on a Tuesday night?”

Peter to James, Conrad

Okay, so imagine you’re at a bar watching a Sens game. Only it’s really packed. Like crazy packed. There are kids here, too? I thought this was bar?

Anyways this bar’s kinda far away, traffic to get there was nuts. The parking situation was crazy too, it’s basically a $20 tempest-filled walk from Antarctica to the front door. Oh wait, this bar has cover. What? The cover price changes according to capricious whims of the owners, oh well. Weird.

So you’ve gotten to the bar and you were late so you could only manage a spot really far from the TV. That sucks, but you’ve finally made it so you’re going order a beer. Wait up, none of the waitresses are interested in serving you. Gotta make that long walk to the bar. What’s this? There’s only two flavors of beer, swill and piss? Holy Shit, it better be Scarlett Johansson’s piss for 11 bucks. Whatever, you’re dying of thirst, you pay the man and head back to your seats.

Shit, the sound’s all messed up on the TV. When the play is going on you can’t hear anything, only the annoying trivialities of your table mates (who are people you didn’t come with or even know before tonight, btw). When the play stops the bar’s DJ leaps to the mic and starts spewing commercials over top of music like “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Save a Horse, Murder Me Please.” Why does it need to be so loud? I’m not usually this ornery but there’s a fucking blimp circling over my head dropping gift certificates for a back wax, that’s cool I guess.

All of a sudden I’m really hungry, let’s look at a menu, wait what? I’ve got to go to the kitchen to order and return to my table with my food? When did I become a feudal serf? Okay, let’s see the menu, what is this nonsense? It’s pizza, popcorn and other junk. Holy lord! This is worse than the movies. I feel awful for that dude with the four kids in tow.

Gotta admit though, this bar’s pretty cool when the play picks up or the Sens score. I wonder how much time in total people are cheering versus the time they spend wondering what it’s like in the bar’s VIP section. Though the bar does get pretty rocking in May and June, if the LCBO lets it stay open.

I dunno, call me a jerk or whatever but I find a hockey game’s entertainment value return on investment to be absolutely dismal.

Thus ends the most passive aggressive screed I’ve ever put fingers to keys

James to Peter, Conrad

A couple of short years ago I was unexpectedly laid off from a fun but incredibly poorly-paying job (Kids Korner: take stabs at what collapsing industry it was in the comment section AKA RedBull Phat Zone!). Scrambling, I took a similarly poor paying and not at all fun desperation job – (kids be needin’ braces…like…every single day). After hating my life to the point of sfkadfj;laerg; I quit the crud job and with some good fortune/friends on my side I found what you would call a big kid job in the af;leaw fv;dv industry.

Point of story: I, for the first time in my life, can actually afford to attend Senators games regularly and even still at my current income the lower centre 300 section is considered splurging. This is not to say I am a spend thrift. I definitely fork over the $268.85 per trip to take the light rail train so I can consume several beers (especially if the Sens do poorly)…maybe buy a little merch item here and there.

Last season I went to about one or two games per month. I even took in my first playoff game at 100 bones for my seat (in the upper 300 section but, you know…free towel so…). Okay, patience folks, I am building a boring mystery here…

I suppose the back story I have provided is supposed to demonstrate that before getting this still very regular job, unless someone gave me free tickets (which was rare, like Mr. Clean with hair) I was pretty much relegated to the much more affordable 67’s games (which I maintain are a very fun time, the team is great, has loyal fans and the games take place DOWNTOWN!! SIX-TY-SEV-ENS OooOoHhhhOoooWoooOooohOoooOOo). Going back to my point: The biggest hindrance to attending Senators games before was without a doubt financial. The hike to the arena doesn’t really bother me – in fact, the LRT can be a great place to drink, the success rate of the club itself doesn’t affect my wanting to see them play or not…neither do the idiot Leafs fans that seem to show up to SENS VS PANTHERS GAMES. It is definitely the price. Having myself been more on the shit end of the paycheque equation for the majority or my fandom, I have to say the tickets are for many, many people unaffordable. I think things are getting a bit better with deals like 4 tickets and an unfulfilled promise for four (6 inch) subs and that Coke Zero Worst Seats in the House Zone makes things more affordable for families who don’t drink / xStraightxEdgexBandsx / monks. My biggest beef with the cost is something called DyNaMiC PrIcInG (dot com).

To recap, the way DyNaMiC PrIcInG works is that there are three strata of games: Gold (for when OTT plays the leafs for some reason), Silver for when OTT plays a team with a superstar or two (like Edmonton on Nov. 29 I guess?) and Bronze for your Phoenix Coyotes or Wilkes-Barre-Scranton PizzaSharks or other garbage dump team – (“its called PARITYpeople!” – Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, 1946-2070).

Bronze level games are the ones I attend regularly. Nothing like that Senators-Thrashers rivalry to get your hard earned moneys worth! And hey, I’ll be clear that I shelled it out to watch some glorious victories at Silver level games against the Captials and Blackhawks last season. This year here and there I’m sure I will throw down more Silver money to watch our boys take on the power house Calgary Flames or New Jersey Cap Issues. Gold games are out of the question for me financially – enjoy leafs and habs fans!

Not to be hyperbolic, but over the years I have – pretty much solely via my income – graduated from being a third class fan – TV only – to a second class fan – Bronze games, the odd Silver game, and, Alfie willing, one playoff game. Perhaps if I get a raise I can be a REAL fan and enjoy the freedom of texting on my Blackberry in the 100 section!

What I am saying is I will always go to games when I have the cash and though I enjoy being able to go I don’t think I will ever forget how exclusionary it felt to barely be able to go at all all those years *saddest violin music you’ve ever heard*

Don’t get it twisted though, it is very unaffordable for many, many fans. My partner is a social worker and never even mentions that she goes to games to some of her clients as she knows they are huge Sens or hockey fans and will never be able to go to the games – who know who she has gotten free tickets from though for said clients? The Ottawa 67s.- Anyway. Look I know we are watching a bunch of zillionaires kick a baseball into a hoop but on even the most superficial level, aren’t we trying to build a fanbase still? We are wedged between to of the most faj;leaw gvn ;zsdfvkj hockey whatevers of all barf! Open up the team a little.

Oh shit I forgot I am the “positive guy” …I mean GO SENS GO!

Conrad to James, Peter

I think this team needs to do a better job of capitalizing on the fan impulse. I have nothing but disposable income, and I watch almost every game of the season. (To say nothing of writing about hockey in my spare time.) Of the 40-odd home games I could go to, I see between maybe four and eight a season. It’s not cheapness. I’ll spend $60 on a meal for my lady and I on a night I could be spending $60 on a ticket and a beer. You’d have to think that I’m exactly the type of demographic the Sens Profit Team want to get their claws into. But even when I want to go to a game, that impulse is sucked dry when I think of standing on a packed bus on the highway for forty-five minutes, getting to the parking lot, then sitting for ten minutes more before they let me off.

I have few qualms with the pricing, though I agree with you James that the games are unaffordable for many. On the other hand, I think there are enough cheap tickets – standing room, Coke Zone, promotions and packages – and the sight lines are good enough from pretty much anywhere in the arena, that most people could probably afford to go to, say, one or two games a season at least. I also think that the Sens are fairly comparably priced for a Canadian team. (We can’t compete with, say, the Panthers, but Florida has become a sort of Mad Max world of tax breaks and Republicans on acid. Tickets are cheap, but you might have to battle with marauding cannibals on your way home.)

I also hear you, Pete, on the shittiness of going to a game V. going to any one of the trillions of bars that show the game simultaneously on forty seven televisions while serving you mini-pitchers of delicious imported beers for $8. Coverage of hockey is ubiquitous in this town, so it’s not like you’re missing out by skipping the ticket option.

There’s no solution to it, and this will sound extremely predictable, but the location of the arena makes the walk-up buy impossible. How many times have we been tossing different bar locations back and forth, walking from one location to the next and finding each bar so packed for the game that we can’t even get a table? Imagine if one of the options was to actually walk to the game. The Sens’ attendance isn’t that bad – way down for a Canadian franchise, but even at 16,500 about the league average. I’d have to think you could make up that 2000 people in walk-ups.

But what can they do about that? With that umbrella of a shit decision hanging over their heads, all they can really do is get people into the habit of going out there. Give them incentives to go and maybe they’ll end up having a good enough time to pay their own way the next time.

1) Keep it up with the aggressive promotions. The holiday pack thing looks good. Last year they also got rid of the tiered pricing toward the end of the season, and should do that again – but for good. People only want to go to a game v. the Habs? Let them, and while they’re there give them the chance to get 25% off tickets to the very next game if they buy RIGHT THEN.

2) 4000 seats left against the Thrashers? Give that shit away, first come first serve. It’s not like 2000 people are going to buy the day of. Build a following, get people in the habit of trying to get free tickets (and buying if they miss out).

3) $11 for a beer is stupid. Yes, that’s normal for a sports event. Except fuck you.

4) I’m with Bruce Garrioch (did I just type that?): the not-so-jumbo tron is getting embarrassing.

5) In 2012, this team will celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. That’s a really, really long time not to have convinced whoever you have to convince to build more than one on/off exchange from the highway to the arena.

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