August 21 2013 07:47PM
I have some thoughts on this uneven spot of Vancouver professional sports franchise #shapheat, and the awful timing of the exchange from a Canucks perspective. I'll share them with you after the jump.
On Wednesday the @VanCanucks twitter account shared a photo of the Rogers Arena sound system being installed for next season along with the harmless tagline "ever wonder what makes all the noise in Rogers Arena?" As you can see from the Tweets embedded at the start of this post, Vancouver's soccer team couldn't resist tweaking the Canucks' nose over the reputed sleepy, corporate atmosphere at Rogers Arena.
So the Whitecaps FC Twitter account owned the Canucks by contrasting Rogers Arena's sound system noise with the hollistic noise of boisterous, singing footy supporters. Y'know the type of fans that might cause a major controversy and be told to pipe down or even asked to leave if they showed up at Rogers Arena during a Canucks game...
This was a no-win exchange from the Canucks' perspective for a variety of reasons, and I find myself rather sympathetic.
Firstly, the fan culture surrounding soccer and hockey are distinct. You may prefer the fan culture that surrounds grass kick hockey (*) even if you're a massive hockey nerd, but the fact is: iced golf soccer's(*) North American fans just don't do the whole chanting and singing thing.
(*) Credit to Jon Bois for "iced golf soccer."
Now I'm a guy who loves to sing (evidence here) and if there were regulary Canucks songs that were sung by the Rogers Arena faithful during Canucks home games that would be awesome. Still, the way the Southsiders act when they attend a Whitecaps game and the way your average diehard Canucks fan acts when they attend a game has little relationship with the usual, simplistic "Canucks games are too filled with corporate stiffs showing up late and spending the whole time on their smart phones" complaints.
Fact is I've been in Rogers Arena when it was crazy loud, like during game five of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and I've been in attendance when the Arena was embarrassingly quiet, like during regular season games against the Minnesota Wild.
I've grown up a hockey fan and I love the atmosphere at a playoff game where everyone sings the anthem and lives and dies with the on-ice outcome. I'm not nearly as big a soccer fan, but I've been to Whitecaps games and the boisterous atmosphere is cool but I'm not sure that it's necessarily better (not to my taste at least). It's just different...
Another reason this is a no-win exchange for the Canucks is that the Whitecaps can't really hold their jock as a business. But that doesn't mean the Canucks can just turn around and tweet "@whitecapsfc lol our franchise is valued at several times whats yours is, nice joke though" or "@whitecapsfc nice one, call us when you open the upper bowl for every match." If the Canucks gently mocked Whitecaps FC the way Whitecaps FC gently mocked them on Wednesday they'd be charactarized as big, bad, obnoxious bullies. Which isn't good for business when you're the unchallenged premium sports brand in the marketplace...
Finally the timing of the exchange really couldn't be worse for the Canucks as they're reportedly facing a situation where they may occupy BC Place for a game in early March to play for a good deal of fans dressed up like empty seats. Vancouver based ticket broker Kingsley Bailey told News1130 on Wednesday that the Canucks' declining fortunes, the oversaturation of outdoor hockey games this upcoming season and the inflated price point are combining to make tickets for the Vancouver hosted Heritage Classic a bit of a tough sell:
Bailey thinks you should wait to buy tickets because they are likely to drop in price.
“It’s happened in the past where they have decided to drop tickets, they did it for the playoffs last year, where they dropped them 21 per cent. If they did that for the playoffs last year, I don’t see it being a problem happening for the Heritage Classic,” (Baily) explains.
Prices for the open-air game start at $93.00 for the first row seats. Those seats are field-level, where you won’t be able to see much, with the rink at least 50 feet away.
So yeah, given the circumstances shrugging gracefully and tweeting footage of the playoff crowd at Rogers Arena was very probably the right play. Sure it's a vanilla response to a solid burn, but this was an inconvenient exchange for the Canucks and their social media team given its timing and high-profile. Sometimes there are no good options.