Panthers Change Ticket Policy Trying to Exclude Maple Leafs Fans

The Florida Panthers did the unthinkable against the Boston Bruins. Now they are hoping to get as many of their local fans as possible to join them at FLA Live Arena.

The Panthers stunned the Bruins 4-3 in Game 7 on Sunday night setting up a second round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Games 1 & 2 will be played at Scotiabank Arena. The Panthers will host Games 3, 4 and 6 if necessary.

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Tickets for the games in Florida go on sale Monday morning starting at 11 A.M. eastern. Those tickets should sell out in pretty quick order especially if a contingent of Maple Leafs’ fans barrage the website.

Except for one tiny little detail. The Panthers have made a decision to limit all ticket sales to folks in the United States based on the credit card billing address. Anyone buying tickets outside the United States will have their order canceled without notice and a refund given. This is similar to what the Tampa Bay Lightning have done in the past.

Canadian Invasion

It’s no secret that games in Florida (quite frankly anywhere for that matter) will have scores of Maple Leafs’ fans at the rink. The attendance issues with the Panthers are well documented. But in Round 1 against the Bruins, they averaged over 19,500 per game.

The Panthers are clearly doing whatever they can to limit how many Maple Leafs’ fans get in the door at FLA Live Arena. While this move might limit some fans from getting in, it won’t completely stop them.

BB&T Center (Now FLA Live Arena)
BB&T Center (Now FLA Live Arena) (Yanjipy, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

First and most obvious is the resale market. Maple Leafs fans can easily find a third-party broker site to purchase tickets. In addition, some folks will buy tickets for the sole purpose of flipping them to the highest bidder. With demand expected to be high, they should have no trouble selling these tickets.

The other thing to consider is how many Maple Leafs’ fans live not only in the United States but also in Florida. If they have both a Canadian and U.S. address, they simply pay using their credit card attached to the American address. The “snowbird” effect will be in full force. Expect a Canadian invasion in South Florida anyway. What will be interesting to see is just how many are able to get in the door.

Panthers Still Have Work to Do

Playoff success is what the Panthers need to ultimately get to where they want to go as a team while maximizing their fan base. The crowds have shown up in full force in the playoffs. But there is still work to do in the regular season.

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The Panthers averaged 16,682 fans per home date. That is 86.7% of FLA Live Arena’s capacity. That’s the fourth worst capacity rate in the NHL this season. While things are certainly trending in the right direction, they have room to improve.

The Panthers will have no issue selling out their building in this series and beyond should they get by the Maple Leafs. And while we understand the intent of making sure Panthers’ fans get first access to tickets, completely excluding other fans does feel a little petty at the end of the day.

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Having an element of the opposition fan base in the crowd would provide an amazing atmosphere and should motivate the home team even more. We just think there are better ways of handling this. Namely, limit sales for the first few days and then open it up to everyone. Or you could block off a section of tickets for those outside the United States.

In time though, the Panthers are on the right track. While they have to overcome some challenges in South Florida like the weather, the beaches and other related activities, it’s clear the team led by Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov will have them competing for the Stanley Cup in the foreseeable future. That should bring more fans in to watch them.

This series should be a good one regardless of how many Maple Leafs’ fans are able to get into the door in South Florida. The passion is too great to completely stop them.

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