Rabid Habs

Ottawa Senators: Ticket Restrictions

Habs vs Sens

Although puck drop remains more than 48 hours away, the Senators – Canadiens rivalry has shifted into fifth gear, the result of – wait for this; ticket restrictions. As a Canadiens fan living less than 25 minutes from the Canadian Tire Centre and as a former season ticket holder I feel somewhat qualified to enter the discussion.

Firstly, this isn’t the first restriction the Senators organization has introduced. Some might recall ticket information from earlier this season in which certain sections within the CTC were designated as visiting fan free zones. The Sens reserved the right to request that a visiting fan could be asked to leave the section and relocate to another seat to preserve the cheering integrity of certain zones. Diving deeper, the Sens ticket policy had changed significantly within the last four years. The organization no longer gives away free tickets, which were used to help inflate attendance, however alienated the loyal season ticket holders who paid for their seats. As a former season ticket holder, the price of seats was less than 50% of face value, however there existed a frustration in speaking to your neighbour only to learn that he received his tickets for free. To help introduce further value for season ticket holders, additional tickets were comped during the season (an extra pair in both halves of the season), while preseason tickets were either free or steeply discounted. Having been to 100+ games, I can confirm that the organization has survived, in large part, on the revenue not only from season ticket holders, but on the money introduced by visiting fans.

The Senators organization has always been a nip and tuck business, unable or unwilling to invest on the same scale as large market organizations. Although the organization is to be applauded for what they’ve given back to the community, where they’ve really short changed the fanbase is the failure to invest in their own product. So much as they might have hated to have their building filled with 60% or more of the opponent’s fans, it’s been good for business. So, maybe the existing ticket policy signals an end of an era? Perhaps the Senators have become a viable business, able to generate profits without the assistance of visiting fans. There is simply no reason that this team should continue to lose money. The larger Ottawa area has over 1 million people. Perhaps now, for the first time, the organization is saying, thanks, but no thanks. If this is in fact the case, good on them. Up to this point there has been nothing more embarrassing than a Canadian market struggling to thrive in Canada’s capital. Perhaps going forward the Sens will no longer need my money, or the money of any other Habs fan to help ensure they reach a level of profitability.

So, rather than be upset with a policy, I embrace it. Further, I challenge every other Habs fan to stay away. Let the Sens build their success on the backs of their own fans. The organization has incredibly inexpensive price points for tickets, while availability has never been an issue aside from those dates when either the Leafs or Canadiens visit. Having been to more than 25 Habs games in Kanata, I have often found that the energy in the building has often assisted the home team more than its helped the visitors. It might be embarrassing to be out cheered by the visiting fans, so the easiest way to shut up the bipartisan crowd is to score early – and take the visiting crowd out of it.

Crowds at the CTC fluctuate significantly. Less than 1 month ago the announced crowd was just over 17,000. Less than 2 months ago there were fewer than 12,500 in attendance (announced crowd over 17,500), while the last home game saw nearly 19,500 in attendance. Now that hockey has suddenly become popular once again in Ottawa, the Sens fans themselves can help sustain the franchise’s financial successes. And maybe, just maybe, the extra money can be used to finish paving the parking lot.