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.