Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final is set to go in Ottawa Tuesday night, where the Senators will try to stay alive in a series they trail 3-2.
It’s, obviously, a huge game. But there may be empty seats in Canada’s capital when the puck drops at 8:00 p.m. ET. It’s unclear how many seats may be left available, but in checking the seat map for the game there appear to be quite a few upper-deck seats for sale. Some of these tickets are being sold in the $120 range.
“It’s very disturbing, however, knowing the players and coaches they will be trying their hardest for Ottawa,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun about the potential that Game 6 falls short of a sellout.
Attendance has been an issue for the Senators, who ranked tied with Columbus for 24th in the league with an 87.4 per cent average capacity in the regular season.
Ottawa’s empty seats have been noticeable at times this post-season, and criticized on occasion. The team has sold out seven of its eight home games so far.
The reality is, this game would be sold out in every other market in the country — and likely stateside, too — but the Senators have struggled to fill seats all season. The market came under the microscope in Game 1 of the Eastern semifinal against the New York Rangers, when an embarrassing crowd of 16,744 showed up.
If this game isn’t sold out, it’s going to raise a lot of questions about the marketplace.
Those defending the team and its fans will point out that the Canadian Tire Centre isn’t exactly in a prime location. Located outside of Ottawa in Kanata, the 18-minute drive on a day without traffic becomes exponentially worse when Highway 417 is rammed with traffic heading out for a big event. Those who criticize, however, will mention teams such as Florida and Arizona also don’t have prime arena locations and their fan bases receive flak for low attendance as well.