Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home Is Where The Heart Isn't.

It's no secret that as hockey buildings go, the Air Canada Centre is a piss poor arena.

The venue itself is in great shape. It's clean, well maintained, has lots of bathroom's, and has well placed signage making it easy to locate your seat. It's still pretty new, so all of this is to be expected. My only gripe with the venue itself is the lack of ATM's. I want to drink, so please let me get my money quickly.

The problem with the Air Canada Centre isn't with the building itself, it's with the fans who can afford to attend the games. Now, this whole post is a little "hypocriticalist" of me as I have benefited from company owned tix on a few occasions myself, but I don't care. I have sat in those seats time and time again and cheered my ass off,
only to be given dirty looks by douche bag suits who are more interested in wooing some client than cheering on our beloved Leafs.

I've heard the argument that those people are paying to put the team on the ice, but the reality is that MLSE has been putting crap on the ice season after season. In recent history, the goal of this team has been more focused on turning a profit, and less on winning the Cup. For fans who actually care about the team, this is a sad fact. For a large portion of the fans who frequently attend games and sit in the lower bowl of the ACC, it really makes no difference how the team does on the ice.

For many years now, attending a Toronto Maple Leafs game has been as much about status as it is about hockey. There are thousands of Leafs fans who have never missed a game on TV, but can't afford to attend one in person because of the high ticket prices. This is a shame. Not just because it's unfortunate, but also because it hurts the team on the ice. When "fans" are chatting and not watching the game, that means they aren't cheering. Any professional athlete will tell you that the crowd can play a role in the outcome of the game, for better or for worse.

This is not simply a Leafs problem either. The historic football club Manchester United has been suffering from the same problem for years. Then Captain Roy Keane once famously remarked that United's home supporters didn't understand the game, and were too busy eating prawn sandwiches to be concerned with what was happening on the pitch. Replace the prawn sandwiches with salmon rolls, and you've got the ACC.

The good news is, there's an upside. As anyone who has had any recent contact with a Toronto media outlet will tell you, the Leafs are currently rebuilding. True Leafs fans everywhere have been preparing themselves for the tough season that we have just begun. As the win over Detroit proved, we can expect to have some bright spots throughout the season, although no one is under any misconceptions on the quality of this team.

We all know that there are 70 odd tough games left. Let's hope that the suits lose interest during the rebuilding phase and the true fan base can re-establish itself and get the ACC rocking (for at least a few seasons). The Raptors fans have proven that the building has the potential to be very loud (or incredibly quiet if you were Josh Boone two seasons ago in the playoffs).

If not, maybe the ACC will stop serving salmon rolls.


eyebleaf said...

You can criticize the ACC, the atmosphere, and the suits all you want...but I'll be damned if you say anything about the salmon rolls!

In light of the horrendous atmosphere at the Hangar, and the exorbitant prices, I refuse to pay to go to watch a Maple Leafs game in Toronto. It's simply not worth it. I much prefer going on road trips to other buildings and watching the Leafs. I hit up Washington last year, and it was fantastic. Awesome seats in the lower bowl, 8 rows behind the glass, for only $90 USD.

I went to two games last year in Toronto, and both times the tickets were given to me for free. That's the only way I'm going to Leafs games in T.O. I guess those are the perks of being an obsessive Leafs fan. People always know that they can hand off their tickets at the last minute to me.

PS. Fuckin suits.

Moonster said...

Yea, it's a real shame and a trend that's happening in most major markets I believe. But it could be worse. You could be at a Thrashers game with 100 other 'fans'. Well, at least you'd only have to pay $10 and sit wherever you like. Seriously, the ushers are like 'You actually came to the hockey game...and paid??!! Please sir, please sit anywhere you want, yes you can sit on the end of the bench."

The thing that pisses me off (just a little more than the salmon rolls) are the 'games' they have during timeouts. I was so embarrased when my Aussie friend was in town for a Raptors game and little kids were at half court using their forehead to spin around a baseball bat. Look, I don't care about kids, I came to watch a basketball game. And kids and parents don't care about that shit either. Who is that catered to? I am perfectly fine with sitting idle for 2 minutes and don't need to be distracted by some daycare sideshow.


Tex said...

Speaking of salmon, check this out...

Billy Bee Absentee said...

I have to disagree with Moonster on a couple of points.

1) they have adults spinning around with bats on their foreheads. 99% of the time, it is retarded, but there is 1% of the time when a really fat contestant falls down and they can't get up. Watching a fat guy flail on the floor is beer up the nose funny. I am all for riding the ACC of kids based games, but let's not get too crazy.

2) I have been to a Leaf game as a "suit". Let me clarify the point, I was asked to go as a part of a corporate outing. I really didn't want to be there, but I had to attend in order to appease my corporate masters. Now I did cheer when it seemed appropriate, but honestly, compared to the profanity laced invective I yell at Raptors games, I acted like I was at a Polo match. But that's exactly my point. You can't blame the people sitting in the seats, you should blame the companies that force us to be there in the first place!