It's not uncommon for arenas to curtain off portions of seating to create ticket demand and the appearance of a fuller house. But what happens when demand exceeds available seats? Shouldn't the additional seats be made available to those willing to buy them?
Not necessarily. Siena College plays basketball in the 13,807-seat Times Union Center, but typically sells fewer than 7,146 seats made available under a policy of curtaining off the arena's upper bowl. However, Sunday's matchup against Manhattan saw that smaller allotment sell out, leaving the 7,147th fan and those who followed out in the cold.
As reported by the Times Union of Colonie, N.Y., fans lashed out on Twitter.
"Open the upper bowl!" a Twitter user named @klumbrow tweeted. "Thousands of more seats available! When you finally have an energized fan base, it's a joke that they are turning people away!"
"Why would they not just open some sections of the upper level?" @gsmethur asked.
"This is incredibly stupid,'' @Carl_1955 tweeted at Siena's athletic department. "Turning away excited fans when there are seats available. Absolutely terrible and disappointing decision. You are losing a season ticket holder just so you know."
The Manhattan game, which Siena won 65-52 to remain undefeated at home, drew the Saints' first "capacity" crowd of the season. They had two such "sell outs" last season.
Siena athletic director John D'Argenio said the athletic department's communications staff warned fans on social media in the days leading up to the Manhattan game that it was approaching a sellout and to buy their tickets in advance or get shut out. "We did hear reports there were people in the box office that came and were looking to buy tickets and they were told that we had been sold out,'' D'Argenio said.
The Saints have reduced the capacity from 8,422 four years ago to the current 7,146 as attendance declined to an average of fewer than 6,000 per game for three straight seasons. As of Tuesday, only slightly more than 6,000 tickets had been sold for Siena's game Wednesday against Iona. The Saints count roughly 3,000 season-ticket holders.
"The idea is to drive demand and drive season ticket sales and advanced ticket sales,'' D'Argenio told the Times Union. "When you look at how other places have been successful, they've done it by having venues that are properly sized, not oversized. When they're oversized, people don't feel the need to necessarily buy a ticket ahead of time, so we want to be able to create that energy and excitement around the program and the demand for the ticket."
D'Argenio, who said he directly received only two written complaints about Sunday's sellout, added that once sellouts are a regular occurrence, the school will revisit its ticket availability. "Certainly, we can look at something for next year,'' he said. "I think going into the last several years, that's the plan we made, to have a smaller capacity, to help drive demand and help drive people to all our games, not just particular games."