New York Rangers Should Consider Changing Home Start Times to 7:30

This is something that used to be really bad, but has only gotten worse in recent seasons, and that is no one is in their seat at a New York Rangers game at the drop of the puck, which is normally at 7pm. It is not people hanging around the concourse, but people who have not even arrived in the building yet. I remember a season or two ago when the Rangers were in Dallas, Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti jokingly mentioned that the crowd there liked to come in late—have they ever looked at the MSG crowd at game-time?

Madison Square Garden is like no other arena in the league, because it is smack in the middle of a major city with so much going on. People are trying to get there from work or others are taking the train in, so sometimes it is hard for fans to get their on time. If you notice, at puck-drop, there are hardly any people in the lower level seats. You can make the argument that most are corporate anyway, and do not care about the game, but they are still fans nonetheless, who contribute to the noise and atmosphere in the building, to which momentum can hardly be gained from an early goal or big hit because there is not a full house to cheer. It is not until the second period, when the arena is full and crowd noise can finally play a factor. For that, if anything, a time change should be considered.

In a way, I think the Rangers are considering changing the start time. Joe Aiello was asked on his season ticket subscriber survey if he would “consider a 7:30 start time for the 2011/2012 season”. His personal view is that they should not change the time, but says it makes sense, because the lower bowl is always empty. To play advocate for the money hungry owners of the Garden, making the time 7:30 also gives fans an extra hour to buy more food, beer, and items in the team stores, which may end up being the driving force if they do decide to change it.

To me, I really do not care either way. I don’t go to 41 games a year, so it really would not affect me. But if I remember correctly, games used to always be a 7:30 start, so some of the older, die-hard fans should not mind as much. I would like any season ticket holders or Rangers fans who go to games on a regular basis to leave a comment with what you think should be done.

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2 thoughts on “New York Rangers Should Consider Changing Home Start Times to 7:30

  1. Jumbo

    Greg,

    You are correct, games used to start at 7:30 and I think the change to 7:00 was made in the last 10 years or so. Back in the late 70s and early 80s Sunday night games started at 7:00 but sometime after that they were pushed back to 7:30. Back in the day when the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus appeared at the Garden from April until June, Satruday night Ranger playoff games would not start until 8:30. The crowds for those games were at a more feverish pitch than usual, with the extra time to drink (and in some cases go out in the fire exits to smoke marijuana and snort cocaine) before gametime.

    One can make an equally compelling argument that home Ranger games should keep the 7:00 starting time because many who go to the games are already in Manhattan and starting the games a half hour later means they end a half hour later when mass transit headways are usually longer. That results in people getting less sleep. Over the past 30 years there has been a huge change in commuting patterns–many more people routinely awaken at ungodly hours like 4:00 a.m. because suburban sprawl has led to longer commuting times. Local news programs now start at 4:30 a.m., whereas 30+ years ago local news programs started at 7:00 a.m. which is when most people woke up.

    The other NHL arena with which I am most familiar is the Bank Atlantic Center, home of the Florida Panthers. That arena is not serviced by any mass transit and games during the week begin at 7:30 whereas weekend games start at 7:00 or earlier.

    I believe the ultimate decision will be the one that puts the most money in Cablevision’s pockets, not only what fans spend at the event but also the advertising money generated by the MSG Network. The questionnaire to fans is mostly a smokescreen to make them feel like they have a stake in the process.

  2. I miss the first seven minutes coming in from the Island, but it’s better than getting home at 12:30 instead of 11pm when you have to be sharp for a heavy day of work the next day.

    I guess I’m one who’s OK with the compromise.

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