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The Empty Seat Cover Up

Its no secret that these days many teams of various sports are having trouble filling their seats for regular season and even playoff games. The NHL is certainly included in this problem. While some teams claim they are selling out, it is clear that many fans are choosing not to attend, or are simply taking advantage of other in-arena amenities and are not using their seats to watch the game. While it might seem like no big deal, as long as they bought a ticket, this can create a very ugly picture in the bowl as well as take away from the atmosphere of the game.

The newest trend in NHL arenas is replacing colored seats with black seats. Washington replaced their purple seats with black seats this summer.

Speaking of purple seats, lets talk about the Blues. Yes, the Blues had purple seats. What a dumb idea in the first place, but this summer the upper bowl was replaced with black seats, and next summer the lower bowl will match.

Anaheim has replaced their retractable seats at the ends of the rink with new black seats. They were previously orange. At this time, we have not heard if they plan to replace more but one would assume they will eventually.

Philadelphia performed some pretty extensive renovations to Wells Fargo Center, and along with them came new, you guessed it, black seating.

What about the Hurricanes? They are struggling to fill seats. Oh yes, they added partially black seats to their bowl, but only in select areas so far.

And then there is Detroit. A brand new arena that was built with all red seats, and the place is almost always empty. They claim that they are selling lots of tickets but the fans are too wrapped up in the incredible concourses. They act like that is not a bad thing, but when a team is looking for energy from it's fans, they won't find it in the arena bowl. Well now the Little Caesars Arena is getting new black seats (yes just one and a half years into its life). The process of replacing them will begin in December and could take a few months.

Of course some arenas already had black seats, like Vegas who built theirs with black seats. I have to ask though, is this really the best way to fix the empty seat problem? Couldn't they put that money into other things that might help people want to sit in the existing seats?

It is the current trend to create new "Gathering Spaces" for fans to interact with each other. However most of these gathering spaces seam to be located outside of the arena bowl. I for one do not pay 80+ dollars to go hang out at a bar or restaurant. I go to watch hockey. I can pay far less to go to any other bar or restaurant. Plus, I would like to fill those seats and support the team that I care about.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you like gathering spaces. Do you think it takes away from the game?

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