The proposed Red Wings arena will have fewer seats for fans — another example of professional sports franchises looking to increase bang for the buck. The downtown arena and entertainment complex, if finalized, could accommodate approximately 18,000 hockey fans, or roughly 10 percent fewer than the 20,066 at Joe Louis Arena. “I think all sports are seeing a downtrend in terms of ticket sales,” said Stephen McDaniel, a professor in sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland, in a telephone interview. “If you look at where you can maximize revenues, it’s in places like luxury boxes and not regular seating. “If you have fewer seats, it makes the game more of a draw,” McDaniel said. “And when things are more in demand, you can raise prices.” The most recent example of an NHL franchise downsizing is the New Jersey Devils, which in 2007 moved into Prudential Center in Newark. Prudential can accommodate 17,625 fans, about 7.5 percent fewer than the team’s previous home, the 19,040-seat Izod Center. The Joe, also one of the league’s oldest arenas, has the second largest capacity of any NHL facility and is one of only two that can accommodate 20,000 or more seated fans, standing-room only excluded. The Red Wings have averaged at least one sellout in each of the past two regular seasons, though attendance numbers are flawed throughout sports, judging by the noticeable number of vacant seats seen on television broadcasts during “sellouts,” even at the Joe. The idea behind new stadiums and arenas is to create more value, and in most cases, that means shrinking the capacity to improve sight lines and game experiences, which in recent years have lost ground to high-definition televisions and smartphones when it comes to sports viewing appeal. It is also a move to combat the growing secondary ticket market, which allows fans to buy tickets to specific games without dishing out extra cash for season tickets or multi-game packages, both easy ways to put fans in the seats for a 41-game home regular-season schedule. The Red Wings average about $26 of revenue per fan, according to annual data compiled by Forbes. That’s less revenue per fan than teams in larger markets, such as the Vancouver Canucks ($55) and New York Rangers ($31), but significantly more than the Philadelphia Flyers ($18) and Chicago Blackhawks ($12).
Proposed Red Wings arena would seat 10% fewer fans
Detroit News | Jun 20