Tonight the Oilers play their first playoff game in over a decade. Almost overnight, the failures of the last ten years have been all but forgotten as the city has gone into full-on playoff fever mode. The few playoff tickets that were available to the general public were gone instantly. The resale market is booming. Car flags have once again popped up around the city. And people wearing jerseys do so proudly rather than lurking in the shadows afraid to admit that they cheer for the local sports team. People are excited in Edmonton, and for good reason.
All this excitement has had an unexpected impact on me personally, as all of a sudden I’m more hesitant to say something that could be perceived as critical. I have always meant the things that I say and write, so this shouldn’t be the case, but there have been plenty of instances in recent weeks where I’ve opted to say nothing, or very little, rather than draw the ire of the “The Oilers are winning, why can’t you just enjoy it?” crowd.
Case in point, the Oilers’ “Orange Crush” video. That video is basically everything I don’t like about hockey. It glorifies fights, crosschecks, and an after the whistle scrum over actual hockey. In a 1:47 video there are exactly two goals shown. This from a team with that has highlight reels full of plays from the most exciting hockey player in the world. It disappointed me and still I dedicated just two, short and sweet tweets to it. Normally my reaction would have been very different.
That I could let go but the Oilers decision to sell a limited number of concourse passes to their upcoming home games, well, I have to say a little something about that.
From the email I received from the Oilers last night:
At this point, nothing that the Oilers do to make a buck should come as a surprise, but can we not all agree that this is completely unnecessary? Oh, and $80, are you kidding me?
The main concourse is big, it can probably handle an additional 500, maybe even 1,000 people, without becoming too congested to actually move, so on some level this might not seem like a horrendous idea. Upstairs though, the story is very different.
Because these people pay less to attend games For whatever reason, the concourse on the upper level is a little tight, between periods you can move around but you probably can’t hit the bathroom, get a beer, and be back in your seat before the next period starts. And it’s also where, I believe, that a person with a concourse ticket is most likely to be able to watch some of the game. And now there will be a few more people jammed into that small space. Wonderful.
It doesn’t matter if the Oilers sell 5, 50, 500, or 5,000 concourse tickets, all this does is diminish the game experience of the fans who paid big money for a ticket that included not just entry, but a seat as well. The lines for beer, for food, for the bathrooms will all be just a little bit longer. No big deal, I can always catch the next payoff game. That’ll be before 2028, right?
You can put me down as a big fan of this idea.