Photo of the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre during an Ottawa Senators game.

Image Credit: C.P. Storm (CC BY 2.0)

The Ottawa Senators organization have added tarps to some of the uppermost seats of the Canadian Tire Centre (formerly called Scotiabank Place) which will reduce the arena’s capacity from 18,5000 seats to 17,000 seats. The move comes one season after the Senators made a deep run into the Stanley Cup Playoffs but still struggled to sell out the arena during those games.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, founder of Biovail Corporation, thinks the move was necessary and noted that other NHL organizations have taken similar actions. Many NHL arenas are opting for more premium seating and a smaller overall capacity. Melnyk also went on to say that the new Ottawa Senators downtown arena will have a capacity between 15,000 and 17,000 seats which will make it one of the smallest arenas in the National Hockey League.

The Ottawa Senators organization also hopes that having a smaller arena capacity will increase the likelihood that Senators fans will purchase season tickets; a plan that seems to have worked for the Winnipeg Jets. The Senators had a record 13,000 season ticket holders at one point. That number that has decreased nearly 25 percent in the last five or so years. One culprit is the Canadian government’s inability to purchase Senators season tickets and give the tickets away to it’s employees and clients. That practice is now disallowed.

The Florida Panthers are another NHL team that recently added tarps in an effort to shrink their home arena’s capacity. The Panthers will occasionally remove the tarps for games that are sure sellouts. Technically, the Ottawa Senators will have the ability to remove the tarps for headline home games vs. teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs or New York Rangers. However, the Senators front office suggests the process is too difficult to be done in a timely manner. It’s unlikely that this move will anger the Ottawa Senators fan base. They’ve already got their mind set on the team’s future home arena in downtown Ottawa. The question is when will the team finally break ground on it?





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