Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Any bets on how long it takes for Patrick Laforge to mention this survey?

With a glove-tap to Mirtle for the link, ESPN just released its fan satisfaction survey, an effort to rank all the major sports teams in North America based on fan experience. Amazingly enough, the NHL still counts as a major sports league in North America, and so we were in on the results.


I have to say from the get-go that I'm fairly suspicious of how accurate a survey this is, mostly because votes on ESPN's website outnumber the number of people polled in a real, controlled, third-party survey 80-1, which to me suggests there are a lot more of these types of fans than your average person on the street. (Before I move on, I want to point out that I found two posts suggesting that Torres + someone would be an acceptable trade for Olli Jokinen and possibly Mike Van Ryn in less than five minutes of searching.) I also have to believe, given that it's ESPN, the sample size for NHL fans was much smaller than any of the other leagues.

But anyway, with those caveats, the Oilers place pretty much in the middle of the pack in the league for everything except, if you can believe it, arena experience. The teams below us in this category are Pittsburgh and the Islander, who of course play in rinks once used by Native Americans for communal lacrosse games (only two rinks older than ours!), the more-or-less redundant Devils, who play in the Prudential Centre but who are getting a new building in the fall, and Boston and Chicago, who play in dozen-year-old buildings that replaced hallowed ground. (Also, to be fair, Chicago fans seem to hate absolutely everything about their team, though it's for good reason.)

Can you just smell what Laforge is cooking? In case you're confused, ESPN undercuts the inevitable conclusion a little bit, but does still get its digs in (keep in mind, however, that this is the complete summation for all the results, not just something specific to their arena ranking):

Oiler fans have a funny way of showing their distaste for Rexall
Place - the arena's current sellout streak dates back to November 2005. Then
again, it's not hard to fill one of the NHL's smallest digs (capacity: 16,839),
even if it is the league's third-oldest. Last season's improbable Finals run
helps; so does the fact that the coach and GM - Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe,
both former captains—have nine Oiler Cups between them, and serve as constant
reminders of the glory days. The lease isn't up for another seven years, but
already there's talk of ownership demanding a revamp, if not a brand new arena,
as part of a revitalized downtown.

Anyway, it would be good at this point to say that while I'm not against the idea of a new arena, which we may in fact need--this study, for its faults, seems to suggest we may need one, although I personally don't think so (and I'd be curious as to what the results would have been before we started hearing all this decrepit shithole talk from management, but we don't live in a perfect world)--I am entirely against the idea of an arena that uses public funds to get built. That is, unless the City of Edmonton gets a revenue share directly proportional to its investment, but I assume we'll have to elect Mayor Trotsky before that idea gets any shrift from the jackasses aching to rubberstamp this damn thing already.

With that noted, it's a pretty small step for the owners to twist this into saying the fans want a new arena, and it's a pretty small step from there to say that, hey, if they want it, they should probably kick in it for it, too. Now, it's really just a matter of time before the EIG or its PR department brings this up as an argument for a new arena. The real question is, will Laforge actually wait until the next PPV game to mention it, or does Jim Matheson already have the e-mail?

12 comments:

McLea said...

"But anyway, with those caveats, the Oilers place pretty much in the middle of the pack in the league for everything except, if you can believe it, arena experience."

I think you have to be pretty sceptical of any results coming from a question that asks fans to rate a relative "fan experience" considering most fans have probably only seen a hockey game in one building, and given this, have no real benchmark from which to weigh their experience.

It reminds me of when the people from MacLean's magazine used to poll us the relative merits of our university experience, which proved to be an exceedingly hard question to answer considering 99.9% of us had only attended one university. Sure, I enjoyed my experience at my chosen bastion of higher education, but I had no way of knowing whether I would have been better off at a different university since my exposure to other universities was approximately zero.

And I imagine the same goes for sports. I saw my first MLB game at the Metrodome, which I thought was great, until a saw my next game at Safeco. I mean, it's pretty hard to know how good or bad you have it until you get a taste of something else.

mc79hockey said...

A thoroughly reasonable comment. FWIW, I've seen NHL games in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Buffalo and Pittsburgh - as far as amenities go, Edmonton's rink is no worse than Buffalo or Pittsburgh's. That sounds worse than it is though - I go to the game to watch hockey, not take a dump in splendour. Toronto is the only rink that I'd actually prefer to attend over the Rex when you factor in the total package.

Scott H said...

Odd that there has been nary a word about a new arena since the Smyth trade. In both Edmonton and Calgary they are using their team's respective Stanley Cup final appearances and subsequent sell-outs to bolster the argument for a new arena.

I predict if the Oil end up 12th in the West for the next couple of seasons, magically there won't be any talk of a new arena anymore.

James Mirtle said...

"Also, to be fair, Chicago fans seem to hate absolutely everything about their team..."

For some reason that made me laugh.

I guess it's fair to expect the Blackhawks to be at the bottom, but with so many crappy franchises, I figured they'd have a fighting chance to beat out some of the newer teams in some areas. Although I suppose hockey fans in Sunrise, Florida, aren't as fickle as those who've watched Wirtz repeatedly dump (in splendour) on their team.

Apparently their rink is awful, too, which is a shame given how new it is.

PPP said...

See I find the Panthers' fans distaste for their rink odd. I went there a couple of times over Christmas vacations in Miami and thought that it was a pretty good arena.

Mirtle also has a new post up about a players survey that shows that Edmonton might not be too popular a destination. Think the EIG will mention that one?

Pleasure Motors said...

Apparently their rink is awful, too, which is a shame given how new it is.

Apparently, but then the Chicago Bulls, who play in the exact same building, rank 49th overall in the same stat. I really think it's just the fact that Bill Wirtz really fucking hates fans, so they really fucking hate his team, and all it touches. (The fact the Bruins/Celtics and Rangers/Knicks ratings are so close in the same category would seem to suggest, too, the Blackhawks fans are just pissed off. Though, again, for good reason.)

Pleasure Motors said...

See I find the Panthers' fans distaste for their rink odd. I went there a couple of times over Christmas vacations in Miami and thought that it was a pretty good arena.

Maybe they just don't like going into a cold building in 20-degree weather? I always hated going into the rink in the summer.

"Mirtle also has a new post up about a players survey that shows that Edmonton might not be too popular a destination. Think the EIG will mention that one?"

Laforge: "Of course, who would want to play in an arena this shitty? Move it downtown, though, and watch the players flock to Edmonton and revitalize our struggling core!"

Colby Cosh said...

I go to the game to watch hockey, not take a dump in splendour.

Totally the opposite for me. I've bought minipacks four years running and I don't even like hockey.

Andy Grabia said...

I'm sceptical of any survey where the New York Yankees rank lower than the Edmonton Oilers in overall Fan Satisfaction. All this tells me is that Yankees fans are absolutely nuts, but I already knew that.

Anonymous said...

Just checking in, I remembered something. Conklin may... win a cup... this year...

Katie O'D said...

It's a pretty subjective thing to be looking for. Not really asking the quality of the arenas, but more how happy fans are with them, so how happy fans are overall is going to affect every category. Like the Bruins' low ratings? Definitely out of spite, and I totally agree. I'd rate them the lowest in every category because they suck enough to deserve it.
The fact that Yankees fans are below Oilers fans is hilarious, or it was until I saw that Sox fans are even below that. To be fair, most of their low ratings come from how expensive everything is, but honestly? We're all spoiled brats.

Oiler Joe said...

Not surprising that Laforge forgot to mention that the last time ESPN conducted this survey with NHL teams that the Oil ranked 8th of out of all the major sports teams. I guess I could understand why, dropping over 40 spots would be difficult to blame on Rexall alone.