In advance of the 2017-18 NHL season, the Ottawa Senators are revealing that they will reduce the seating capacity of the Canadian Tire Centre.
The adjustment to the arena will lead to about 1,500 seats being removed from the Seantors’ ticket offerings, and bring the overall capacity to around 17,000. To reduce the capacity, the team is planning to cover seats in the upper rows of the arena.
The adjustment, according to club officials, should better allow the Canadian Tire Centre to meet the needs of the team’s market. It was also noted that the new capacity is more in line with some modern NHL arenas. More from TSN:
“Our building is too big for the market,” said Senators president Tom Anselmi. “Our upper bowl is way bigger than people are building nowadays. That’s what drove the thinking. How do we create scarcity? How do we make it a little smaller and how do we make it a little easier to fill the place?”
“They are permanently out of the manifest,” Anselmi said. “They are the cheapest seats in the building and they were the ones that weren’t selling.”
The Senators created headlines during their run to the Eastern Conference Final in the spring when they struggled to host sellout crowds during multiple home games. The club became a punchline across the country as hockey fans couldn’t understand how a Canadian NHL team could have attendance issues deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Anselmi insists the idea to reduce the seating capacity was not a direct response to the disappointing ticket sales in the playoffs. The club president pointed out the Senators had more fans attending their third-round games than the Nashville Predators – who were generating nationwide headlines in a positive way because of their boisterous home crowds. An official sellout at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville during the playoffs last year was just over 17,300 fans. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the Senators drew plenty of criticism after 18,111 showed up to Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins – which was a few hundred shy of an official sellout.
Canadian Tire Centre opened in 1996, and the Senators have been working to replace it with a new arena that would be constructed in downtown Ottawa. Though plans for that venue are not final, and the arena would likely not open until the early 2020’s, the Senators have discussed building the proposed facility to have a smaller capacity than the Canadian Tire Centre.