When a team has trouble selling tickets, it’s never about just one thing.
In the case of the Ottawa Senators, competition for sports and entertainment dollars has increased. The experience of watching the game on television has improved dramatically. The drive out to Kanata and the cost of parking remain obstacles for some fans. And let’s not forget that Ottawa is a small market by professional sports standards and as a government town has an even smaller corporate community than other cities of a million people. So we shouldn’t compare ourselves to Montreal and Toronto.
If the Senators could build their arena over again, it would be something closer to Winnipeg’s, with some 15,000 seats. Instead, they’re reducing capacity by 1,500 by covering over seats in the highest level. It’s a smart move that will create demand and remove the bad optics of thousands of unsold seats. Before long everyone will be used to it. When the Senators eventually move downtown, it will be a brand new game. But let’s not take this as a sign that Ottawa is somehow inferior to other cities. We’re just a lot smaller.