As those of us who grew up in the New York Metropolitan area are painfully aware, the Ottawa Senators eliminated the New York Rangers to advance to the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night. You’d think that, with their on-ice success, the Senators franchise would be turning fans away from their games, right?
That’s not exactly the case according to Melanie Pitman writing for TheHockeyWriters:
Their average game this past year tallied 16,744 attendees, compared to the 20,500 total people that can fit in the Canadian Tire Centre. And when the Sens played their first Round Two game in four years, only 16,744 seats were full – which was the first time in nearly 10 years that the team didn’t manage to sell out for a playoff game.
—Baffling Attendance at Senators Games, Still There’s Hope
The number one issue that Ms. Pitman cites is the location of the Canadian Tire Centre. This arena in a suburb of Ottawa called Kanata. It’s not particularly easy to get to in a car from the center of Ottawa, where many people in Canadian government and related businesses work. Although it’s surrounded by acres of parking lots, exit from those lots after the game is reportedly difficult despite efforts to improve it.
And, just like the other professional hockey arenas that we’ve identified that are similarly situated– places like Wells Fargo Center, PNC Arena, BB&T Center, and Scotiabank Saddledome in the NHL, and the Giant Center in Hershey, PA in the AHL, arenas that are surrounded by acres of parking lots don’t generally have the amenities outside the rink in the form of walkable bars and restaurants that make going to the game fun for people who are not yet the hugest hockey fans.
At RinkAtlas, we believe that the experience of going to a professional hockey game includes how much fun it is to travel to the game, what you do when you get to the arena before you enter the building, and how easy it is to get back home or to wherever you are staying.
We believe that there have to be ways to compare the total game experience at different arenas and say that, typically, you’ll have a better time at a Predators game at Bridgestone Arena than you will at a Senators game at Canadian Tire Centre, simply because of how much fun Lower Broadway in Nashville is compared to Palladium Drive in Kanata.
We’re working on ways to measure this sort of fan experience and we hope to soon have some metrics that help identify the truly fun places to experience a game.