From this week's Season Ticket "Planholder Update:"
In consideration of other Caps fans, please wait for a stoppage in play before leaving or returning to your seats. Also, please avoid obstructing the view of other Caps fans seated behind and around you. (Emphasis added)
Nice try, but no cigar. More below the jump...Maybe our complaints haven't fallen entirely on deaf ears. Maybe Ovechwin's blog has gained some traction. Maybe they put this in these updates every now and then and I've never noticed it before.
Regardless, I'm half-glad that it's in there, and half-annoyed that they couldn't be specific enough to actually say, "don't lean forward in your seat - you block the view of patrons behind you."
Just saying, "don't obstruct their view" doesn't mean anything to the leaners, because they don't realize they're obstructing our view. If we tell them, we're as likely to get a rude response or no response as we are to get them to actually lean back so we can see.
There are two answers to this problem as I see it. First, Ted can invest millions to raise and lower seats in the 200 and 400 levels to alter the sightlines. Second, at a cost of about $1000, the excellent Caps video production crew can create a 30-second public service announcement about proper behavior and run it before every period (and not way before every period, either, but right before, so people actually see it). In addition, the VC management can tell the ushers to actually make sure people behave properly. This really isn't that difficult a choice. A massively-expensive investment, or a cheap, easy fix.
Maybe Ted and the rest of the management think that this isn't that big an issue, what with a season ticket waiting list several thousand people long. The Japers' Rink community, however, likely represents some of the most die-hard fans in the Caps community. When season ticket holders here start musing about how we plan to sell more of our tickets in the future and how watching in high definition on TV might be a better option, Ted should start getting concerned. At around $22 per 400-level ticket, the occasional leaner hasn't pushed me to watch games from home. . . yet. Next year, however, when that price jumps rather sharply to $29, the idea of paying that much (not to mention $8 per beer) to watch the back of someone's head doesn't sound so appetizing anymore.
Ted has consistently come through for the fan base on all the big things. He kept prices low when the product on the ice warranted it. He hasn't gouged us now that the Caps are the hot ticket in town. For the most part, he's respected the Caps' history while embracing new fans. He replaced the old jerseys with snazzy new threads. I still remember giving him a standing ovation when he announced signing Ovie to the 13-year contract. He has a long-term vision and he's following it. He wants the Cup even more than I do.
In short, he's a great owner, which is why his lack of action on this front is so confusing and so seemingly tone-deaf. This is one small thing that he could do to vastly improve the in-game experience for the fans. For someone who relishes making people happy, eliminating or vastly reducing the incidence of leaning would make me, and a lot of other season ticket holders, very, very happy.
I renewed my season tickets for next year, in part because I want playoff tickets, and in part because I still enjoy going to games for the most part. For the first time since I got season tickets, however, I actually considered not renewing this year. Part of it was the cost increase, but I must admit, a large part of it was the knowledge that my ability to enjoy, heck, to even see the game depends on the willingness of the patrons in front of me to sit back in their seats. This was the first year where I thought to myself, "I really wish that I had stayed home and watched this game on TV," and had that thought on a regular basis.
Again, the Caps management can easily point to the waiting list and feel safe in the knowledge that they can replace me and people like me with new customers. On the other hand, I'll point out that, like a lot of the people here at Japers' Rink, I was in the building back when it was empty. I showed up every night because I love hockey and I grew to love and believe in a team full of talented youngsters. This isn't a judgment about the relative merits of different kinds of fanaticism; it's merely a statement that I'm enough of a hard-core hockey fan (and now, Caps fan), that I'll come to the arena, buy some beer and scream myself hoarse and it doesn't matter if the Caps are first in the league or dead last.
I bet most people here feel the same way I do, which is why I find it so odd that Ted and the rest of the Caps' management team is unwilling to make such a small gesture to prevent leaning and ensure that every fan can see the game, instead of seeing this: