By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
How do Boston fans feel about TD Garden’s new seats? Well, to be honest, they seem to absolutely hate them. Seriously, next time you’re on Twitter, just search ‘TD Garden’ and ‘seats’ and you’ll find everything you need to know.
Part of the massive summer renovations to a Garden that hardly looks like what it was as recently as the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, the Garden switched out the black and gold seats for an all-black look. It was a switch done to breathe new life into the building with a more modern look, but also increase capacity, with each row adding a seat or two.
But it’s also come with a noticeable squeeze for many of the Garden’s taller patrons, with knee room at an absolute premium, according to several photos posted on Twitter.
And the complaints have been so loud that a spokesperson for the arena actually came out with a statement addressing the situation.
“For the first time in nearly 25 years, we updated the seating inside TD Garden. We’ve received feedback from fans and can appreciate that, as with any change, it takes some time to get used to such major changes,” the statement read.
Ah, going with the “get used to it” approach, I see. Surely, that’ll win everyone over.
Now, the truth is that there’s pretty much nothing that the arena can do to make people more comfortable heading into this season. The Bruins will have their home opener this weekend and the Celtics had a preseason contest at TDG this past Sunday. The Garden also has an absurd amount of events — from Post Malone to Bob Seger to UFC — coming to their building in the coming days and weeks. There’s no time to strip out the new seats and re-do them or put the old ones back in. (There’s also the fact that they trashed all the old black and gold seats, so you’re not getting those back anyway.)
But to resort to what was basically a “pony up and deal with it, suckers” statement is beyond tone-deaf.
The Bruins are still riding a sellout streak that dates all the way back to Dec. 2009, and they’re fresh off a run to the Stanley Cup Final, so they’re not exactly hurting for people trying to get into the building. But the cheapest box office get-in this weekend’s home opener is a whopping $139, and that’s for the second-to-last row in the building, and before fees. It doesn’t drop all that much for the second game of the season (a matinee against the Ducks), either, with the cheapest box office ticket checking in at $85 dollars. That seat is also in the second-to-last row of the balcony, and is without fees.
B’s season ticket holders also saw what was about a seven percent increase in their season tickets from the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 season, and experienced another increase (the B’s called it a “blended five percent increase) for this new season.
The Celtics, meanwhile, checked in as the fourth-most expensive night out, according to Berkeley’s “Cost of Being A Fan” study, which had a night to TD Garden for some Celtic Basketball costing you $126.79, trailing only the Heat, Lakers, and Knicks for tops in the NBA. And like B’s fans, Celtic season ticket holders experienced an increase from 2017-18 to 2018-19.
When you were already “boasting” some of the highest prices in the league — and with no sign of slowing it down (even for your diehards that lock themselves in for 41 nights out per year) — you without question owe your fans the benefit of being comfortable in the arena they’re helping stay fat by spending what are downright absurd amounts of money. That’s without factoring in the fact that both fanbases have stayed packing the building to sellout streaks and record numbers even as it became an inconvenient eyesore for the last two years thanks to what’s felt like never-ending construction, too.
It’s the least you can do for them, actually.
Instead, you were handed what was essentially a “get used to it,” memo.
This is gross.
While winning can certainly blur vision of even the best, your fans are not mindless cattle with pockets full of money. They’re people, and they want to be able to feel welcomed and comfortable in the arena their supposed to call “home.” I mean, these are people who are willing to shell out triple digits to see even the sleepiest weeknight game against a non-conference opponent. And if their horror stories are real — and there’s enough documentation out there to believe that it’s not just a bunch of Tacko Falls and Zdeno Charas who are having a hard time in the stands — you should listen, not talk down to them. And make no mistake about it, that statement reads back as condescendingly as any 39-word statement you’ll come across.
It’s essentially an arena challenging your fandom and saying that you’re going to get used to it because the teams are so good that you don’t want to miss out on being part of the action. This, again, comes across as such a gross way of handling legitimate concerns from your fans and patrons who want to give you their money. And it’s a challenge that the Garden may regret the second their teams fail to add a banner or take a step back in the inescapable cyclical nature of professional sports.
Because once you lose that challenge, not even the fanciest ninth-level party deck, diverse food hall, and (oddly delicious) donut cheeseburger can save you from your base finding something better to do with their money.
Not to mention all that newfound leg room.