Last summer, Michael Yormark, President of the Florida Panthers NHL Hockey Team, and the BB&T Center, announced that the club would be introducing premium seat pricing in certain sections of the arena. Those sections known as “Club Red” are being sold with the following perks, and features given in this advertising produced by the Club and Arena.
The innovative seating provides private concierge service, access to a private club and lounge, private restrooms, programs included with your purchase and a number of other amenities. Its quite the list, and you can see it in the advertising produced above. The seats are also located in a prime location, being sections 101, 102, and 134. These just so happen to be the seats at centre ice, and behind the team benches. They are also directly opposite the camera in the arena
The problem? There is no one in the seats. Watching the game yesterday, it was clear to see that there was maybe a dozen fans (or less) in the seats. Every time there was a play in the neutral zone, entire sections of empty red seats were visible. While the rest of the arena was reportedly quite full, having next to no fans in the best seats in the rink has to be embarrassing for a TV broadcast.
What has happened? One theory is that the cost of Club Red Tickets is so prohibitive that no one is buying them. As seen in this article by Puck Daddy when the Club Red Section was announced, season tickets that were $2,500 each have now gone up to nine times that amount at $22,500 for the season. This is probably a major reason why the seats are so empty.
Edit: Panthers fans now tell me that the price has dropped to a mere $16,500 for a one year membership to the club (including concerts). This still seems an insane price, and a reason why the seats are empty
A second reason that has been given is that apparently the corporate crowd who sits in these seats are all busy in the club 360 lounge instead of watching the play. Now, we’ve all seen this phenomena with scattered crowds in the platinum section of the ACC for Toronto Maple Leafs games. But let me tell you, that wasn’t what we had here. This wasn’t a scattered crowd. This wasn’t some of the seats being empty because people were in the restaurant/lounge. There were literally about a dozen fans, in sections that could seat 672 people (according to Puck Daddy’s August Article).
This is killing the atmosphere at the game, is an embarrassment on television, and a marketing flop on the level of new Coke. All the Panthers have done here is anger season ticket holders and long time fans by making major ticket price increases, and have a ton of empty, overpriced seats to show for it. Things will only get more embarrassing this weekend when the game between Tampa and Florida is scheduled for a national broadcast on the NHL network. The Panthers need to end this awful experiment and end it now.
And that’s the last word.