I recently read in the Sports Business Daily that the Florida Panthers have opted to use tarps to cover approximately 2,000 seats in the upper deck at the Bank Atlantic Center. One such tarp will include advertising for Party City as shown in the link below.
Now I'm usually not one to pick on teams with attendance problems, especially ones that haven't fielded a winning team in over a decade, but this is just embarrassing. WNBA teams use tarps, not NHL teams. Look, it's one thing to cheat your attendance figures a little bit - most teams do - but it's another thing to lower your seating figures so you can claim a higher % of capacity. That just has amateur hour written all over it. If the Panthers really want to give the illusion of more fannies in the seats they should try implementing two novel ideas.
1. Try lowering your ticket prices. Last season, the Panthers average ticket price was ranked 13th in the league. This was ahead of teams like the Capitals, Blackhawks, Red Wings, and the Sharks, to name a few. Their neighbors to the north, the Lightning, were ranked 29th (source: Team Marketing Report).
2. Maybe you shouldn't trade away your star players for nothing. The Panthers traded perennial all-star goalie Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks during the summer of 2006 along with defensemen Lukas Krajice and a sixth round draft pick in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen and backup goaltender Alex Auld. Jacques Martin, then Panthers coach, called that exchange the worst trade in the history of hockey. He might be right...but I'm still trying to figure out how Sather wiggled Pavel Bure from them for Igor Ulanov.
Yup, most struggling small market teams lose players to free agency. The Panthers? No they just give them away for free...and that's something you can't throw a tarp over.