So, last night, though the results were not what I had in mind, I have to admit I had a fantastic time at the Blue Jackets' game.
I normally love going to the arena, but last night was extremely special. A friend was visiting from out of town, so we decided to grab a couple of tickets to the game up in section 202. We ended up having an extra ticket when one of my usual hockey buddies canceled, so I called up DBJ and asked him if he would like a chance to get into the game, which he happily accepted.
Getting to our seats for warmups, we chatted about the third jerseys and the week that was, when to our surprise, a gentleman from the Blue Jackets came up to us.
"Excuse me, but would you like a free upgrade to the new Miller Lite Party Suite tonight?"
In fact, the team offered several of the people in our section the same upgrade - I also noticed him asking several of the groups who were upgraded if they were attending by using the Student Rush tickets, which I'd consider a great marketing move from the team's business operations.
One: Gets "young, exciting, hip" image for the party suite. (Which is why I'm baffled they invited me, but hey, I'm not complaining!)
Two: The team already does a great job with the student rush promotions - $15 for upper bowl, $20 for lower bowl? What if they offered $30, say, for the suite? Suddenly an area that might be a "dead zone" in the game gets populated with fans who are more likely to cheer, shout, and get loud.
Oh, and the view?
Not too shabby!
As it turned out, the "cost" for our upgrade was to appear on the in-game arena TV network when Mike Todd dropped by to promote the new suite, and we were also featured on Fox Sports Ohio when John Michael stopped by late in the third period to show it off as part of the FSN All Access Night. (Yes, I was in fact on the TV playing bubble hockey....and yes, I was kind of awful at it, but I would point out that I scored a goal, and my opponent didn't!) We spent some time hanging out and talking to Mike, John, and several of the ice girls, and everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming.
The suite itself is actually quite nice, with a private bathroom area and two different levels to watch the game from.
Here's the view from upstairs, about in line with the middle of the upper bowl:
Each level features a table game - the foosball / bubble hockey machine on the "main" level of the suite, and an air hockey table on the upper level.
As it is the Miller Lite suite, not surprisingly there are Miller Lite signs and bar mirrors throughout the area, and in addition to some nice conventional seating, each level also features a large "bar counter" area, complete with bar stools, that give an excellent vantage point on the game, which is where my friends and I decided to camp out. I lost sight of the action when the play went into the bottom right corner of the arena, but a quick look up at the jumbotron took care of that - or, if I was feeling like a little wider look, the left side of the suite featured a wall of HDTVs, each on a different game thanks to Center Ice, though one was constantly tuned to the CBJ game. (We also got Washington @ Boston, ATL @ NJ, Phoenix @ the Islanders, and LA's drubbing of Nashville during the evening.)
The suite had a section for buffet service, though food was not served for this game, but the normal package will include 2 beers, all you can eat wings, pretzels, and potato skins, and I believe free soft drinks.
All in all, I have to tell you, it was a pretty fun way to watch the game, even if the results didn't work out quite how I wanted, and if I want to make a game a special occasion, $75 for a ticket in the suite, considering it includes all you can eat food and drink, actually seems pretty decent compared to $30 for my "regular" seats, $10-$15 for food, and $10-20 on beer or soft drinks during a game.
My thanks to the Blue Jackets for giving me a chance to see the game from the suite, and the free seat upgrade - it made a fun night out with my friends into something truly memorable.