Pass or Fail: Edmonton Oilers’ controversial concourse playoff tickets

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The Edmonton Oilers played their first playoff game in over 10 years on Wednesday night, losing in overtime to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of their Pacific Division semifinal.

It’s been a while since they tasted the sweet nectar of playoff revenue, and clearly the Oilers wanted to chug it while they can. So after selling every seat in the arena, Edmonton decided to try something rather novel and totally craven:

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Selling $80 “concourse passes” to fans, so they can enter the arena and stand for three hours and buy overpriced concessions and watch the games on giant televisions while hearing the ambient sound of the game.

Oh, right: They also filled already crowded concourses to capacity, which makes for fun times in the bathroom lines between periods:

As you can imagine, this ticket scheme was received with the loving adoration of a United Airlines overbooking policy.

From Cam Lewis of Oilers Nation:

This is also going to result in major clogging within the facility during the games. It’ll mean a longer line to get in, a longer grind to get out, and even more hassle to work your way through either a bathroom or concession line during an intermission. It seems lame to ask people to spend a good chunk of cash for this mediocre experience, and it’s really brutal to do so knowing that it’ll worsen the experience of the fans who just dropped hundreds of dollars to come in and cheer for the team after a decade of waiting.

Ryan Batty of Copper and Blue, who really lit the fuse on this controversy, wrote:

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. 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.

But before you condemn this policy as a cash-grab for the Oilers that inconveniences their season-ticket holders, what about those fans who think dropping $80 to stand in a hallway and pay $12 for beer is totally worth it to be part of the Stanley Cup Playoff experience?

From CBC:

Allison Zimmerman was among the first in line for the concourse tickets. The Edmonton teacher said she couldn’t afford arena seats but still wanted to be part of the action. “Just being in the building is an unbelievable experience,” Zimmerman said. “You’ll be able to hear the chants and just feel like you’re right there in the action, even though it’s maybe not the same as having a seat.”

Farther down the line, Stephen Avivi waited to buy two concourse tickets. He managed to snag two arena tickets for his family of four, but said “that was all we were going to be able to do.”

When he heard about the concourse option, Avivi said he rushed to the arena. His family plans to split up and trade tickets between periods. “This gives an opportunity for both the boys,” Avivi said. “My wife’s got one of my boys and my other boy’s going to come with me and then we’re going to let them trade halfway through the game so both of them can have their first experience of Oilers playoff hockey.”

OK, so you’ve heard from the prosecution. You’re heard from the defense. Is this no different than paying for a parking pass at a football game so you can tailgate and then watch it on a TV from the back of your car while sitting in a lawn chair?

Or is this just a ridiculous, bathroom clogging embarrassment?

PASS OR FAIL: Edmonton Oilers’ concourse pass ticket policy.

Please post your takes in the comments!

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


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