New Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is offering up some sweet seats for Tuesday’s game — potentially even his own — to help rekindled that home-ice advantage and to help his team mount run at a playoff spot.
Dundon extended an invitation to fans sitting in the upper bowl at PNC Arena when the Canes take on the Ottawa Senators, offering them a spot in the lower bowl. If those are taken up, then the suites will open up. And if those are filled to the brim, Dundon will welcome fans into his owner’s box.
“I want the lower bowl to be energetic and packed,” Dundon told the News & Observer’s Chip Alexander on Tuesday. “It’s obvious it’s sort of a playoff push now. We’re going to let the people who want to come down and get a better experience. I think we’re going to run out of tickets so we’re going to have to open up suites … to make sure we take care of as many people as we can.”
Alexander pointed out that the Hurricanes are 30th in the NHL in home attendance at 12,936 for the first 21 games, which is just 69.3 percent of capacity.
A new owner trying to get fans engaged in his team and the on-ice product can’t be a bad thing.
When Dundon became the team’s majority owner earlier this month, he said he wants to win now.
“I value winning more than money,” Dundon said. “But it doesn’t mean I want to burn it.”
Getting fans closer to the action is one thing, but getting them to invest in lower-bowl seats is another.
But Alexander points out that attendance at PNC has been improving recently, noting that the for their Dec. 29 game against Pittsburgh, the turnout was 17,975.
The Dundon Effect seems to be working. Alexander notes that in the three home games since Dundon became owner, the Hurricanes have averaged 15,587 fans.
And this may only be the beginning of Dundon’s efforts.
“I would expect we would do it again because I like the idea,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes and how loud it gets. If it’s loud and I think it’s an advantage I think we’re going to try and do it more. We’ll find out.”
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck