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Florida Panthers to Reduce Capacity in Sunrise

Murpharena Bac2 BY GEORGE RICHARDS

The Florida Panthers spent their early years playing at the Miami Arena. At the time, it was one of the smallest and most intimate venues in the NHL.

Those were great days for the Panthers. Not only was the team winning, but there was a demand for the product. Those who wanted to buy season tickets got on a list. Single game tickets were scarce.

In 1998, the team moved to its sprawling new home on the edge of the Everglades. Seating capacity went from 14,823 in Miami to 19,250 in suburban Sunrise.

“Our building is just too big,'' team president Michael Yormark said Wednesday. “It would be too big for a lot of teams in the league.''

With the team failing to make the playoffs in the past decade, on most nights, a large number of seats sit empty during home games.

Now, they'll just be covered up.

The Panthers are expected to announce on Thursday that they are cutting the capacity for hockey games at BankAtlantic Center by more than 2,000.

The arena will hold 17,040 for most games.

“It will create a more intimate environment for our fans when they enter the bowl,'' Yormark said.

“It will also enhance the fan experience and create some scarcity with our tickets. It will also limit the  Arenafront number of promotional tickets we have to put out in the marketplace. .-.-. We think this is the right decision. Go back to the old Miami Arena. What made it so exciting? It was tight, fans were right on top of the action. We played at 99 percent capacity. We think we can go back to that.''

The top six rows in the corners of the upper deck as well as end zone seating will be covered in tarps for most home games. The tarps will be blue in color to blend in with the color of the highest seats in the building.

Those fans who have already purchased tickets in the seats that will be now made unavailable will be upgraded and moved closer to the ice at no extra charge.

Yormark says the tarps will have advertising as well as the team's logo.

“We want the bowl to look symmetrical so that's why we're going all the way around,'' Yormark said. “The reality is, when you walk into a bowl and you see density, an arena full of fans, it automatically tells you your going to have fun, it's going to be cool, you are at a party. A lot of empty seats takes away from the experience. We want a better experience for our fans, a better value for our fans and create a scarcity.''

Unlike the Jacksonville Jaguars – who covered up almost 10,000 seats to try and keep NFL television blackouts at a minimum – the Panthers could remove the tarps for select games.

The NFL told the Jaguars they couldn't pick and choose which games they wanted to have a lower capacity for so the tarps remain up throughout the season. The Panthers have no such concerns.

When big draws like Montreal, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers roll into town, the tarps will be rolled back. The tarps will also be taken off for concerts and other events.

The University of Miami reduced seating at Sun Life Stadium last season by covering sections in the upper deck and club level with UM branded tarps. The Miami Heat's balcony at AmericanAirlines Arena seats over 3,000 fans. When the balcony is closed, the downtown arena has an official capacity of 16,500. The Marlins also limit seating at Sun Life Stadium, although for the 1997 and 2003 playoffs, all available seats were open.

The Panthers are believed to be the first NHL team in recent history to decrease capacity without adding luxury boxes or other premium seating.

The Carolina Hurricanes curtained off most of the upper deck at their temporary home in Greensboro (capacity: 21,273) in 1998-99, as did the Lightning when they played games at Tropicana Field (then known as the ThunderDome) in St. Petersburg from 1993-96.

Bac2 Under the current configuration, the Panthers capacity is seventh largest in the league according to official numbers released in the league's media guide.

Last year, Florida averaged an announced 15,146 at home, just 79 percent of capacity – ranked 25th in the league.

With the upper deck tarps, the Panthers will play in the third smallest arena in the league – just larger than the antiquated arenas in Edmonton (opened in 1974) and Long Island (1972).

Of course, the Panthers arena has much more luxury seating -- including two levels of suites -- than Edmonton or the Nassau Coliseum.

The New Jersey Devils cut around 2,000 seats from its capacity when it moved from the Meadowlands to Newark in 2007 but added premium seating and boxes it did not have at Continental Arena.

2009-10 NHL Capacity

1. Montreal 21,273

2. Chicago 20,500

3. Detroit 20,066

4. Tampa Bay 19,758

5. Philadelphia 19,527

6. Calgary 19,289

7. FLORIDA 19,250

8. Ottawa 19,153

9. St. Louis 19,150

10. Toronto 18,819

(*) -- Source: 2009-10 NHL Media Guide

2010-11 NHL Arena Capacity

21. Colorado 18.007

22. New Jersey 17, 625

23. Boston 17,565

24. San Jose 17,562

25. Anaheim 17,142

26. Phoenix 17,125

27. Nashville 17,113

28. FLORIDA 17,040

29. Edmonton 16,839

30. Islanders 16,234



Comments

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O....M....G!

A party? He actually said it would be like a party.........

Tallon---please build this team, they will come.

Before the knee jerk reactionaries hit the airwaves I am going to put in my $.10's worth:

In today's economy it's hard to sell entertainment. Concert promoters are slashing "lawn seat prices" and I think these moves are along the same fence. And I quote from the email sent out today:

"Please note that if you are one of the fans (SSH) affected by this change, we will contact you in the next 48 hours to relocate your seats at no charge."

So your die hard SSH no matter where they sit if it's in these areas will have their seats in likely a better location for the same price. This is similar to what was done when the NHL instituted the nets behind the goals, I along with a lot of other people were dissatisfied with the suddenly "obstructed view" and were moved to "unobstructed seats" and no additional charge.

I see nothing wrong with covering up approximately 20 rows of seats in 407-413 that quite frankly are so high up in the stratosphere that one could barely see the game anyways. I say close em up and use the same price point for seats in other sections. Other than the few games that are SRO anyway, put em in better seats. It will make the game better for them anyway.

I doubt they will be covering seats in the shoot twice end because those areas are also filled with Coaches Club seats.

Another quote: "In addition, we are introducing a new dynamic pricing structure on single game tickets that will see prices rise as sales and demand increases for individual games."

I think this is an EXCELLENT idea, Let's charge all the Canadians, Rangers, Pittsburgh, and Toronto Fans more per seat since the only time they show up is when "their team" is in OUR HOUSE!!!

Allow me the leeway to believe that its rare to think a PANTHERS fan is only going to show up for one of "those" games just to root on the PANTHERS.

I cannot wait until the Panthers are winning enough to render these concepts moot, but until that happens, creating fuller "upper bowl" sections by closing off these upper, upper, areas is NO BIG DEAL!!!

I think Yormuck does all he can to piss people off and alienate the fans. I grow tired of all his moeny making schemes. For crying out loud, the public paid for a 19,000+ arena and this guy wants to shave off 2000 seats? Something is not right here.

i don't have a problem with this. It's all marketing BS to me (and of course the tarps will have advertising on them) and they'll come off when people actually want to sit in those seats.

Good for the organization to improve the seating for the affected fans at no additional charge. They can think of it as a small reward for being diehard fans.

GMan, maybe they should have stayed put in the Miami Arena when the team was actually good. That would have been a good idea so that the building wouldn't have to be torn down less than 20 years after it was originally built. They move to this monster sized facility in the middle of nowhere, two steps from standing in the swamps, and wonder why people don't show up. Oh yeah, and it's SOUTH FLORIDA! Until they start winning some games, the place will be empty and we'll be playing teams like Montreal or Pittsburgh or whatever and see the place 75-25 in favor of the road team in terms of fans. Why did they build such a large arena if they can't even fill it up? I mean, seriously, has that arena EVER been sold out? Even one time, outside of the first game ever there. And they need to make those tickets more affordable. I don't have any interest in watching a hockey game from the upper level since lower level seats are like 70 bucks a pop. So maybe they can make it more affordable so I can watch the game from the lower level when I can really feel the action. oh well, I am done. You know what was so funny about how the 'Canes did their tarp action. It was never uniform. One week, it was in all four corners. Next week it was in three corners even though the stadium was half empty. Next week two corners, still half empty. It's like they got too tired to put all the tarps up.

Hey Rudy....yes, the Sunrise arena has been sold out many times...when this team is good, people come....you couldn't get tickets -- even as big as the arena is -- during the late 90s/early 00s...when pavel bure and the panthers were ripping it up, the place was packed...

George, that was such a long time ago...

a very long time ago

Hey George, I think this idea is dumb. IF someone could, if you take away the Attendance for the top 10 games all year, the arena only averaged like 13,000 every game. So is Yormark going to tarp of the entire upperdeck????

Maybe Yormark should slash his salary by 10 percent to help out with this promo...

Good move by the team, seeing all those empty seats on TV was depresssing

Artifically limiting seats to make remaining seats more valuable is a scam.

Shall I call my 4 bedroom home a 3 bedroom to create demand.

It is a lie and is pissing me of as a Season Seat owner.

Cut it out.

ike Paul Simon says "who do you think your'e fooling?"
Face facts~ Blue is the best color to blend for a panning TV camera, that is why all arenas use blue and green for seat backs. It makes the arena look filled to the naked eye better than yellow (think first version of the AA Arena in Miami. The dismal performance by this overrated cast of underachievers leads the team to sell ad space on banners rather than try and fill seats. It is all about the Ca-ching! You can't fill seats so you rationalize it is better to sell ad space on a tarp. Less seating means you can statistically say your attendance is up when in fact you actually have less attendees. (Example: I cut of two fingers now I need less rings.This is wacked mentality to try and evade the obvious: Horrible front office+bad coach+ poor talent+bad fan experience and loss of fans

Clubs,especially NHL, need to stop building their stadiums in other nearby suburbs due to the initial lure of taxpayer money. Of course if the team is good people won't mind driving and xtra 45 minutes to see them. But if the team is terrible like the Panthers have been lately then who in their right mind would want to drive that extra distance, after working a long day, to go see a terrible team? (Unless NYR,Ovehkin,etc is in town)

It's 45 minutes from where? Miami? The current location is closer for the majority of STH who live in Broward & Palm Beach. Let's not forget that Broward County picked up a major part of the cost, & the new arena has lots of sky boxes (i.e. money) that the Miami Arena lacked.

South Florida is an event area. People come out when the team is winning (sometimes), or when there's something special about the other team. Sports owners will put their arenas/ballparks anywhere as long as a local govt. wants to help pay for it. The committed fan will travel, & the casual fan will go to a couple of games on a weekend, or to see "their team" (i.e. the other team).

Hockey tickets are not airline tickets. Ask most people and they hate the fact that 2 people on same flight/plane, paid different prices.

Yormark needs serious help and guidance. I used to listed to SSOs complain aboiut him and now I understand.

He is phony and is wrecking the BAC atmosphere.

It is time to go Michael.

Are concert tickets going to be sold like plane tickets too ?

Great undertaking, really good for every body.

What a nice decision, it;s good for the spectators, the players, and practically any body who loves the sport

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