It shouldn’t be news to anyone who regularly attends games at Rogers Arena that the building’s atmosphere often lacks significant lustre. In this week’s 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman wrote that the Canucks organization have been tracking the results of a fan-surveyed “Fun Meter” after each home game for the past few years, and one can only imagine how dismal the numbers have been. As Friedman noted, the Canucks have experimented with changes to their programming on the Jumbotron during commercial timeouts, but that seems like a relatively small attempt to fix a serious ongoing issue. Here are seven better ideas to improve the atmosphere inside Rogers Arena, and to encourage attending fans to really make some noise—beyond the usual smattering of polite applause and tentative whooping.
Reduce Corporate Ticket Sales, Lower Prices Where Possible, And Give More Tickets Away To Dedicated Fans
Whenever fans are asked for their ideas to upgrade the ambience inside Rogers Arena, they inevitably respond with pleas for the Canucks to lower prices—but that’s not always practical. The NHL is a business, and the supply and demand of the Vancouver market ensure that ticket, food, and alcohol prices will always remain a bit higher than they are in less hockey-mad cities. That being said, there are other ways to ensure that the product of Vancouver Canucks hockey is made more readily available to the dedicated fans of the team.
First and foremost, the Canucks need to reduce their corporate ticket sales. Fans are continually complaining about the presence of “suits” in the lower bowl, and it’s hard not to notice how many attendees are not sporting team colours at any given home game. That’s not to say that one has to wear a jersey to a game in order to qualify as a “real fan,” but it stands to reason that a large portion of the guests at any Canucks game are there as a result of corporate incentives and giveaways, and thus might not be as interested in the hockey side of things as a fan who specifically sought out those seats.
The more dedicated, hardcore Canuckleheads that are packed inside Rogers Arena, the louder the building will be. However the Vancouver franchise has to accomplish this goal—lowering prices where possible, decreasing corporate giveaways, handing out tickets to existing fan groups, or increasing contests—they should definitely consider it, as no other change will have as large an impact on the atmosphere inside the arena. There are plenty of dedicated Canuck fan groups out there (hello, r/canucks!), the team just needs to collaborate with them.
Keep Fans In Their Seats Until Each Period Has Actually Ended
There’s no more depressing sight at a Canucks game than the inevitable stream of fans leaving their seats to make a mad dash for the concourse during the last few minutes of play each period. It not only looks bad, but it also interferes with the ability of those who actually remain in their seat to keep their eyes on the play. Whatever the organization can do to cut down on the early evacuees—reducing bathroom and concession wait times, last-minute-of-play giveaways, shaming via the PA system—they should do.
Turn Down The Lights
There’s nothing other than anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I have heard several regular attendees of Rogers Arena complain that the building is too bright—or, at the very least, brighter than the average NHL arena. And, as everyone knows, it’s usually pretty difficult to party with all the lights on. The Canucks might find that fans are more willing to get a little wild if they don’t feel like they’re sitting under stage lights while they cheer, and a few notches down on the dimmer switch might translate to a major increase in the arena’s decibel levels.
Actively Promote A Supporters’ Section And Let Them Lead The Way
The Vancouver Canucks organization doesn’t have to look very far to find an example of a thriving “supporters’ section”—the Whitecaps have the “Southsiders,” and the group has long been acknowledged as responsible for creating the sort of fun atmosphere that has made soccer a major draw in Van City.
The Canucks have their own burgeoning supporters’ group, the Larscheiders, who have attended a handful of games over the past couple of seasons. The self-organized club have started chants, banged on drums, and lent their infectious energy to the rest of the fans in attendance. The results have been spectacular—but appearances by the Larscheiders have been few and far between. The next step is for the Canucks to officially promote the group as a legitimate branch of the organization, with the overall goal of developing a Southsiders-style supporters’ section within Rogers Arena. If that happens, all they have to do from there is get out of the way and let the Larscheiders lead the charge.
Codify The Existing Fan Traditions And Make The Viking Clap A Regular Thing
Some hockey minds are not fond of Rogers Arena tradition of “wooing” every time the team scores, but at the very least it’s a semi-unique tradition that helps set the building apart from others. Even better is the occasional practice of fans raining down intermittent woo’s on opponents during the tail end of a victory—an act that delightfully simulates whale song—but it’s too intermittent and random to truly qualify as an arena tradition. The Canucks would do well to codify such pseudo-traditions so that they become a regular part of Vancouver hockey—allowing fans to get excited each game about the prospect of letting loose with some orca chatter.
A perfect example of a tradition that should be codified is the “Viking Clap,” which a group of fans organized for the Sedins’ last game in Vancouver. It made for an epic way to honour the strong history of Swedish excellence in the Canucks organization and—with Elias Pettersson now on the scene—there’s no reason it can’t become a regular thing.
Create Some Player Achievement-Themed Giveaways
Back in their heyday, the Ottawa Senators’ top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson became known as the “Pizza Line” thanks to a giveaway that rewarded fans with a free ‘za whenever the team scored five or more goals at home. What better way to create a tangible connection between the success of the players on the ice and the happiness of the fans off it?
And no, the Safeway Million Dollar Score-And-Win doesn’t really count.
The Canucks should take this concept a step further by creating some player achievement-themed giveaways that specifically tie into the individual success of certain Canucks. Pettersson scores three points? Everyone in attendance wins free Swedish meatballs. If Bo Horvat wins 90% of his faceoffs, everyone in attendance gets reimbursed for parking. Stuff like that could ensure that the continued development of the Canucks’ young stars is directly translated into excitement for the fans in Rogers Arena.
Bring Back The Classic Tunes
This one is simple. Fans want “Where The Streets Have No Name” when the Canucks take to the ice. Is there any real reason not to give it to them? It’s time to bring the classic tunes back to Rogers Arena once and for all—and they probably should have never left in the first place.