While I was fighting some illness earlier in the week, I missed the release of the seating chart for the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils season. The official website has the 2011-12 seating chart right here.
I have to emphasize that it is currently just a seating chart. There aren't any season ticket or single game ticket prices associated with this chart as of this writing. I know that season ticket holders have had their chance to renew early (which I did in Section 1) and I believe they still are doing seat relocation events. Therefore, they've had a chance to renew at their original price (which I did at $51/game) or get an idea of what the prices would be for them to move to another place.
If you're a regular on Devils message boards like at the Devils' board at HF or NJDevs, then you probably can figure out what prices are each section. Maybe they definitely are season ticket prices for 11-12; or maybe that is only what current STHs are paying? Even if they are the true season ticket prices, without knowing the single game prices, we can't really say whether or not prices went up, down, or steady for this upcoming season. Hopefully, this information will be released soon; but let's look at the chart in the meantime to see what's new and what's not.
The Lower Bowl
My initial reaction at the 11-12 chart was, "Wow, that's a lot of colors. The Devils are certainly staggering things here." Then I took a look at the 2010-11 chart and to my surprise, that the lower bowl sections from last season have mostly carried on to 2011-12. The colors have changed; but the break down in the lower bowl ends are still the same 5 sections by row. The only difference is that rows 6 though 10 in the lower bowl ends are no longer the same section as rows 16 through 23 on the lower bowl side sections (sections 6, 10, 17, 21). This leads me to believe there will be a difference in pricing. That's it. Even rows 2 through 5 in the lower bowl ends are still marked as the same section with rows 2 through 15 of the lower bowl sides.
Premium seating has undergone a more significant breakdown. Last season, the club seats and the first row in the lower bowl were all the same price. I don't think many in those sections were pleased with that, and the Devils responded. Now, the first row across the entire lower bowl are now "Gold;" rows 2 through 18 in the club sections are "Black;" and rows 19 through 23 in those sections are "Silver." Most likely, "Gold" will be the most expensive non-suite seats in the house. After all, it is the first row at a hockey game, they really are prime seats as I discovered last December. "Silver" will provide cheaper club seating compared to "Black" though I can't imagine it'll be cheap on it's own. They are premium seats, after all. The Goal Bar and Diner concourse sections remain unchanged section-wise.
The more significant changes to the Devils' seating are in the upper section for next season.
The Upper Level
First, you'll notice in the 2011-12 chart that they broke up the 100s and 200s. The 200s remain unchanged in terms of section from the 2010-11 chart. There are two sections: the gameday corner sections which will probably remain the cheapest seats in the Rock and the green sections. The 100s, well, they're more complicated.
Based on my observations as a season ticket holder for the last few seasons, it seemed to me that the balcony sections were usually more empty than the 200s. Based on this seating chart, I think Devils are looking to address that. Instead of just making it one set price for nearly all of the 100s, they've broken it down. The balcony end behind the Devils' goal for two periods are broken up into two sections: rows 4 through 14 at "Aqua" and rows 1 through 3 at "Light Blue." The balcony end behind the opposition's goal (Devils attack twice) have the same "Light Blue" section but they have "Royal Blue" for rows 4 through 14. The rest of the 100s (the mezzanine) are also "Light Blue," except for four sections in the middle.
If the Devils went to this much trouble to break down most of the balcony ends into two separate sections, then they are probably going to price them differently. Not too much, I hope. This is what much of the message board discussion has centered around. Apparently, the "Aqua" is at $22/game for season ticket holders, "Royal Blue" is at $28/game and "Light Blue" is at $42/game. If true, the Devils really want to fill those upper level ends of the Rock. Though, I find it a little strange that row 3 in the same balcony end section would be as much as $20/game more than row 4; but perhaps that's the compromise that needs to be made with the 100s in the mezzanines being the same section? Then again, that just begs another question: why didn't they just make those side 100 sections to be a different group? It's not like the Devils were shy on making new sections on their chart for next season. Of course, this is predicated on whether those really are the prices for new season ticket holders. That, along with single game seats, remains to be seen.
Moving on, like last season, the middle 100s on the sides (111, 112, 128, 129) are sectioned off differently again. These are at center ice at a high enough angle to see everything clearly, so I can understand the breaking these off. What is different from last season are the first rows of those sections. There used to be a "Lavender" section just for the first row in those four sections plus four adjacent sections. Now, they're confined to just the four in the middle and they're same color as "Rust" - the lower bowl end section for rows 16 through 23. Does this mean they'll be priced the same ($51/game - what I paid since I'm in "Rust")? And if so, does that mean rows 2 through 8 behind them in the 100s will be cheaper? If not, then why re-use a color?
One last question: Where's the supporter's section? I know management enjoyed the supporters. The supporters had discussions for next season. Maybe one exists, but it's not open to the general public. That would explain why it's not on the seating chart - to avoid any public sales of seats held for others. So where would they be? From my experience, most of the supporters sections at games last season were up in the balcony ends. It wouldn't surprise me if the Devils blocked off seats for them for next season in one of those sections.
As with before, until the Devils officially announce pricing, those questions will remain in the air. Needless to say, it's clear to me that the Devils are focusing on that upper section for this coming season based on the released seating chart. It's more complex at first glance; but in comparison with last season, the Devils are satisfied with most of the lower bowl, club seats excepted. How the Devils will price all these different sections will be crucial, especially since the team didn't make the playoffs last season. Surely with different sections, there will be variation in pricing. Overall, it shouldn't represent an increase - that would be disappointing; but again, that remains to be seen. That all said, if the balcony ends are filled with more fans without too much of a drop elsewhere in the Rock, then I suppose that would be a success of sorts.
What do you think of the seating chart for next season? Are you pleased with how they are breaking them down; or do you prefer something simpler? Do you have any information on prices for next season by way of season ticket renewal or from the relocation events? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils' seating chart for next season and ticketing in general in the comments. Thanks for reading.