Gila River Arena will seat fewer fans for NHL games next season, as the Arizona Coyotes intend to reduce the venue’s capacity.
The Coyotes are among the NHL’s lowest drawing teams, featuring a per-game average attendance of just 13,000 that ranks second to last in the league. While the Coyotes have struggled on the ice this season, the team has been looking to secure a new arena in downtown Phoenix or East Valley. In recent remarks, both the franchise and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have emphasized that Gila River Arena and its Glendale location is not a viable long-term option for the franchise, citing economic issues.
The team has now revealed a plan to reduce the seating capacity for its games next season. For the 2017-18 campaign, the Coyotes will place a tarp over four sections of the upper deck, effectively blocking out more than 1,000 seats. More from SportsNet:
As a result, Coyotes spokesman Rich Nairn told local reporter Brahm Resnik that the team will close off a few sections and cover them with tarp next season.
“We will be tarping off four upper level sections in Gila River Arena for the majority of our home games. These sections (205, 211, 220, and 226) have not sold well in the past… we will be working with current Season Ticket Members to select seats in comparable locations at the same price point… Removing some of this excess inventory and concentrating our great fans closer together represents an opportunity to improve the fan experience at Gila River Arena.”
According to a tweet from Resnik, the plan would drop 1,256 seats from the venue’s NHL capacity, which is currently listed at 17,125.