20101106 calgary skyline - 07

What’s in a name? The Calgary Flames hope a lot.

The NHL club plays out of one of the more unique buildings in the NHL. The roof of The Scotiabank Saddledome slopes and swoops with peaks at either end making it look like a saddle. Those high ends at either side are nearly 20 rows of seats that are above the scoreboard, and, because of the trusses and equipment hanging from the ceiling, have an obstructed view of the arena.

Renovations to the old “300 level” have led to something called Press Level Seating to emphasize the fact that the seats have the same angle from which the play by play announcers and analysts view the game.

Press level seating saddledome

Press level seating saddledome

2 huge big screen tv’s have been added to replace the missing scoreboard view, there are some added bathrooms, a concession and it all comes with a cheaper ticket price – about $35.

This week the Flames invited a few dozen of Calgary‘s media hosts to the rafters to experience the game and spread the word. The ticket price is certainly right but something happens the further away from the play you get – the less involved in the outcome you become.

Calgary‘s Saddledome is notoriously quiet on the best of nights, put yourselves a few feet from the roof and you find yourself watching the game on tv more than the ice. People in your section start chatting about nothing to do with hockey. It’s sort of like paying $35 to watch the game at a bar. The environment is great, but you just don’t feel like you’re there. The sound from the crowd (when they do get excited) has a hard time finding it’s way into the corners and you can’t feel the heat from the flame that burns when the team scores.

Press level seating saddledome

It’s not the behind the glass view I had at last year’s Heritage Classic, it is what it is. Everyone ends up leaning forward in their seats to try and get a better view and if you stay back you end up with a third of the ice blocked by hats. Then again, after only spending $35 on tickets instead of $80 or $120 or $200, you will have cash left over for the rest of the stadium experience.

I wouldn’t get season tickets in Press Level Seating, but I wouldn’t avoid them altogether either. It’s an affordable a ticket in an NHL arena. For a dad with a couple of kids who enjoy zamboni watching as much as the game, it’s a great way to get into the barn for a family hockey night in Canada.

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