Last-minute sale of concourse passes upsets Oilers ticket holders — yet some fans willing to pay anyway

Some Oilers ticket holders are upset they'll have to share the concourse with more people than usual. The Oilers Entertainment Group is making 250 concourse passes available two hours before Wednesday's first playoff game.

'Kind of a garbage thing to do,' says Oilers blogger

Oilers fans who don't have tickets to Wednesday night's opening playoff game can buy tickets that get them into the concourse at Rogers Place. (CBC)

Oilers ticket holders certainly aren't gushing over this potential orange crush.

On Tuesday evening the Oilers Entertainment Group announced it would be offering a limited number of concourse passes for Wednesday night's opening playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The $80 concourse ticket doesn't get you a seat — they're already sold out.

It doesn't even you a proper view of the ice or the players on it. But the OEG says it "will allow fans to be part of the playoff atmosphere inside Rogers Place." The passes will give fans access to the main and upper concourse levels.

People who buy tickets will be able to watch the game on the big screens located around the concourses.

It's a decision that has some ticket holders ready to drop the gloves. The response to the announcement on Twitter was nothing short of a verbal poke check.

Some called it a cash grab that will only result in even longer lines for the washrooms and concession stands than the ones patrons already complain about.

Ryan Batty, managing editor of the Copper & Blue blog, agrees.

"You are diminishing the experience, arguably, of the fans that have a seat at the arena," Batty said Wednesday.

"You may be able to go from being able to get a burger and a beer at the intermission to just a burger or just a beer. It is going to make it a little bit harder to move around."

Batty thinks the last-minute decision to release the passes is unfair to those who purchased seats.

"I kind of get the feeling that even they [OEG] might know this isn't a great idea, considering it came out last night after 6 when it wasn't going to get covered by the news," said Batty. 

"I think they were hoping it would get lost in the shuffle today of 'Yay, playoff game!' and that's kind of a garbage thing to do."

A total of 250 concourse passes will be available at the north entry gates, two hours before the 8 p.m. faceoff, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Oilers fans lined up an hour before the concourse tickets went on sale at Rogers Place. (Trevor Wilson/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."

'Unprecedented demand' for tickets

OEG spokesperson Tim Shipton doesn't think an additional 250 people will have a big impact.

"It's a big building, of course. We have over a million square feet at Rogers Place, and so adding 250 extra people — certainly from a customer service perspective, safety and security perspective — we'll be more than able to handle that.

"It was just a way for us, with unprecedented demand for access to Oilers playoff tickets, to allow for a few more people into the building to be able to soak up Oilers playoff atmosphere."

Batty expects fans wanting concourse passes will be as eager as sharks on blood. 

"I have learned that there's pretty much nothing that we won't pay for in this city when it comes to this team," he said.

"Would I pay for $80 for that? No, I wouldn't. But I suspect a lot of people will." 

OEG hasn't yet decided if it will continue to offer the passes throughout the playoffs.

"We'll be reviewing the plan after tonight's game," Shipton said. "If it's successful, yeah we'd love to see it continue."

With files from Zoe Todd