A team owner shouldn’t have to answer questions about attendance issues on the eve of his team’s biggest game of the year, yet here we are.
The Ottawa Senators are once again well short of a sellout for Tuesday’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with hundreds of tickets still up for grabs hours before puck drop.
“It’s very disturbing, however, knowing the players and coaches they will be trying their hardest for Ottawa,” owner Eugene Melnyk told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch on Monday.
Lots of options left for seats in Ottawa tonight if you happen to be in the area: pic.twitter.com/q2ysE6yJFN
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) May 23, 2017
That’s not a good look for the team (Melnyk in particular) or the fans, especially when this is the second such incident in less than a month.
Plenty of excuses were thrown around — most of which you can read here — and subsequently mocked when the Senators were nearly 2,000 under capacity for Game 1 against the New York Rangers last round, so there’s no need to go over them in detail again.
But the basic line of reasoning is that it’s incredibly inconvenient and too pricey for most fans when you can just watch the game at home or make a short commute to your local watering hole.
Including fees, the cheapest ticket for Game 6 is CDN$140 ($103 USD). When you include parking, some food and a few beverages, you’re probably looking at less than $200 per person. That’s not cheap, but it’s quite reasonable for a playoff game at this time of year.
And while Canadian Tire Centre is a pain to get to, it’s only a 30-minute drive or so from downtown Ottawa and the surrounding area. That’s not close, especially with a lack of transit options, traffic etc., but it’s also not a ridiculous amount of time or distance to travel to watch your team play in Game 6 of the conference final.
After selling out the first two games of the series, despite what Jeremy Roenick would like you to believe, the Senators should have had no problem hitting capacity tonight, despite the feeling of impending doom following Pittsburgh’s lopsided win in Game 5.
There are of course a number of factors at play — like a large number of the city’s public servants having their pay affected by a faulty government payroll program — but many shouldn’t come into play on what might be the last home game of the Sens’ season.