Two and a half years ago I wrote this post about hockey coming to Allentown. Now, it’s less than 100 days until the home opener. I’ve already signed my season ticket contract and picked up my promotional gift (two of the nicest left-handed hockey sticks I’ve ever seen). Concerts are being scheduled, and there will be some pre-season games prior to the October 17 home opener. It’s getting close folks. You don’t believe me? Take a look at this –at the time of posting, that live cam is showing the seats being installed in the main bowl, and some of the risers–the first 5 or 6 rows for hockey–in place.
Here’s another peak at the season ticket seating for hockey:
In case you missed it, concerts and events are already being scheduled. The opening event will be the ’70s rock band the Eagles, on September 12. Here’s the full list, as of this writing:
Friday, September 12: Eagles
Monday, September 15: Cher
Tuesday, September 16: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Friday, September 26: Rascal Flatts
Friday, October 3: Harlem Globetrotters
Friday, Saturday, October 10-11: Professional Bull Riders
As near as I can tell, tickets are still available to all of these events. Tickets for the Eagles are getting low, however, plenty of the VIP, and “Platinum” seats upwards of $450.00 each are still available. Here’s what the concert seating map looks like–at least for Tom Petty:
Here are some nuggets I learned at my ticket signing for the Phantoms this week:
- There are a butt-load of season ticket holders. The seat map for hockey is tremendously full. They are currently selling partial season ticket packages only to those on the waiting list–they haven’t even started public sales of those yet, let alone single-game tickets. They don’t have the most season tickets in the league, but there are motivational signs throughout the ticket office promoting that as a goal for the ticket staff. Impressive. If you’re thinking about season tickets you’d better get moving. And tickets in the expensive “club” section are almost gone. So much for letting them talk me into upgrading…
- The seats are nice. I was able to see the regular seats, the club seats, and the suite seats. All very nice. Of course, the club seats are slightly bigger and could be a bit more apart. The suite seats are bigger yet. But, not tremendously so. I had to ask to figure out which were which, in fact. Very nice padded seats, all. They all seem nicer than the Wells Fargo Center seats in Philly.
- They are thinking about sound. Arenas can be horrible places for concerts sometimes because of the acoustics. Metal and concrete reflect sound like crazy, and it’s difficult to get a pleasing auditory signal to the concertgoers. They’ve already thought about that, and strategies are being implemented to assist with the sound quality. One of the Brooks brothers is a huge concert fan, I understand, and this has been a point of emphasis. We’ll see how they do, but it was encouraging to hear that they’re already thinking about it.
- The season ticket package includes 38 home dates, 2 preseason games, and 2 playoff games, for a total of 42 games. In the event that the team doesn’t play in the playoffs, the two extra games will be credited towards the following season. Most season ticket holders have a 3-year or 5-year contract. The price is locked in for the first two, with an increase of no more than 3% for the third year. It’s unclear when the pre-season games will be for this first season, or whom they will be against. Any chance of a Flyers exhibition? We’ll see. I would guess one would be the weekend before–perhaps Columbus Day–and one during that week.
- The final schedule should be out in August. There will be very few mid-week games. Most will be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. There will be the occasional mid-week tilt over the holiday periods of Thanksgiving, Christmans, and New Years. A couple extras will be sprinkled in, but count on mostly weekends.
- They know the ticket process for concerts is not perfect. The hockey side isn’t completely in control of it, and the promoters, and the bands themselves have a lot of say in how things are done. Phantom’s STH do get some pre-sale ability–but then, the “Cyber Club” of the arena does, too (just sign up!). It’s not clear if one group or the other has access to better seats–they are chosen for you during the purchasing process. Personally, I did very well with my Eagles tickets (I think…) as I used my American Express (promoter) pre-sale code. I did much less well with Tom Petty, using the Phantom’s code. I have no idea if this is a coincidence or a computer problem or what. I don’t know how many concerts I’ll go to down there, but we’ll try to keep up with info that we hear and learn.
Now, let’s take a look at how the Phantoms are doing with those things I suggest so many months ago:
- Invest in Parking and Travel Solutions: According to the Morning Call, there has been a traffic study in and around the arena district and with respect to the parking lots. In addition, there will be an “app” for your smart phone to help you find parking (just try looking at that while you drive! Kidding. Have your passenger do it!) I did see a parking map, for the first time, the other day in the print version of the newspaper. I believe it was in regards to this study with this article but the image is nowhere to be found now. We’ll update going forward. I believe the bottom line is, that there will be enough parking, and the flow from the many points of access will be tolerable. The key will be getting cars into those spots that are available. The city and the team are concerned and working on it–and don’t have their heads in the sand (or elsewhere) at this juncture. It’s a start, but I’m telling you they need to continue to work on it. On my way downtown to sign for my ticket plans the other day, I made four wrong turns, almost plowed into two mini-vans which were parked in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, and almost drove off the closed portion of the eighth street bridge. And, this was with the benefit of a satellite-guided navigation system in my car, and full daylight. I admit it’s not my best thing–and construction in the area was part of the problem–which will hopefully be concluded somewhat before September 12.
- Concerts: They’ve already exceeded my expectations for the amount and quality of the acts they will be able to book. Good for them, and I hope it continues.
- A co-tenant: The SteelHawks are the number one candidate. I wrote about it earlier today, here. I wouldn’t mind seeing indoor soccer or a D-League NBA team, too. I won’t be in for Lacrosse, probably.
- Make it NICE: Everything I see tells me that they are. I am hopeful.
- Good A/V: Everything I’ve heard is good. We’ll see.
- Family Friendly: I think so. A number of the restaurants downtown should have some kiddo possibilities, especially before and after matinee games and events. I felt OK walking around downtown the other day when I was down there exploring. Yes, it was daytime. And, yes, I am somewhat oblivious at times. But I’m hopeful, here, too.
- Keep the Philly Connection: They have, and then some. First, with the introduction of Chickie’s and Pete’s as the sports restaurant. Then, in case you missed it, they’ve worked in cooperation with the Reading Royals and the Philadelphia Flyers to make the Royals their AA-level partner. Read more about it here.
- Realignment: Yup. It was announced this past week. The Phantoms will play in a division with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Penguins), Hershey (Capitals) and Binghamton (Senators), in addition to Norfolk (Anaheim).
- Concessions: TBD. But, with the number of new eateries downtown, I don’t think I’ll be going hungry at games.
- Group Sales: The do have a couple of special group areas, including one right on the ice where you can watch the players enter. They also have some other spots blocked off for group sales. They’ll be OK–they have enough season ticket holders on three- and five-year deals to get things rolling even without a ton of groups.
- Conventions and Meetings: Well, already we have Globetrotters (basketball exhibition) and Bull Riding (rodeo, prob similar setup to some X-games stuff) so there’s that. I’m sure they’ll find stuff. Need to develop a quality reputation with the parking and the facility itself–as well as the comfort of the performers–though.
- Vuvuzelas: We’ll see. It will be interesting to see the kind of atmosphere they promote. I wonder how raucous it will be. It will be interesting…
See you at the arena,