Weekly Question: Best Seats in the House

Let’s not talk about the game last night

I just can’t do it. I can’t write a nuts and bolts article about the Ottawa Senators tonight. I know I should but I just can’t. And furthermore I don’t know what we can achieve in an open discussion that we haven’t gone over a thousand times before in the game threads and the recaps and the other usual posts. This team has some problems right now. We’ll all get worked up about it. In a week or two the Sens will string a few wins together and we’ll go back to raving about the prosperous future ahead. Right now, this shit sucks. So let’s talk about something else!

When it comes to sporting events, I can’t think of many concepts more subjective than seating. We can talk about jerseys but even that can get a little heated. We can talk about food and beer but as a vegetarian teetotaler I’m legally not allowed to have an opinion on those subjects. We can talk about parking and how best to dress -20 gamenights in Ottawa. When I talk about buying tickets for hockey games (and don’t even get me started on baseball games!) I find it infinitely fascinating how subjective this discussion can get. Every single hockey fan has their own philosophy on optimal lines of sight and I genuinely believe no one has a right or wrong answer when it comes to seat location.

Now, in total fairness, NHL tickets cost a lot of money! A lot of folks can’t afford to go to games at all, let alone sit in the first or second bowl. Sometimes we forget that even riding the red and white limousine for an hour and sitting in the nosebleeds represents a privilege in and of itself. A lot of people will never get to watch NHL hockey in person. A lot of those people probably don’t care but others probably really wish they could, regardless of where they could hypothetically sit. And as someone who has had the privilege of seeing games from many angles over the years, I genuinely enjoy analyzing the minutiae that is Canadian Tire Centre/Scotiabank Place/Corel Centre etc. seating.

Hockey games pose some dilemmas unique in sports. By virtue of having three periods as opposed to four quarters, you need to decide whether you value a line of sight closest to the home or visiting net for the first and third frame (unless you go dead centre-ice). If you have a predisposition to a specific net then to you go corner or end-zone? And then of course some folks have a religious fervor when it comes to sitting either behind the box or the bench (home or visitor?). Personal anecdote: absolutely not by design, I don’t recall once in my life sitting behind either teams’ bench at the CTC. So it goes!

We need to talk about bowls. Moreso than other decisions, this one comes down largely to economics. I’ll gladly settle for family fun zone but anyone who has had the fortune of sitting in the first five-ten rows knows that the game just looks different from ice level. If you get accustomed to the 100s then moving up a section or two feels like a compromise. Some fans swear by the best-of-both-worlds experience of the 200s. For the balance of proximity and range of viewing, I can’t really argue with their logic (even if I never take this approach personally). The 300s, of course, have the most fun (Coca-Cola Family Fun, even). What you sacrifice in clarity, you gain in range. Both nets, benches and boxes, the 300s have it all even if you can’t feel the rattle of the boards (don’t bang on those by the way—act like you’ve been there before).

So there you have it. I present you with some bait to talk about something more subjective and pleasant than last night’s embarrassment. You certainly can talk about why the Sens lost in Colorado but I invite you instead to offer your insights into the fascinating world of seat selection. Buying a ticket to an NHL game goes well beyond 60-65 minutes of actual hockey. Whether we think about it or not, travel, amenities, and the temperature of the water in the washrooms all make up this unique privilege that we have in Ottawa. Savour it all. Well before the warmups and well after your advanced egress measures, take in the smallest details of the experience. Sometimes those things stick with you the most long after you’ve forgotten who won or lost and also why is the mascot named after Spartacus if he staged a revolt against the Roman Senate?

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