Schererville resident Ed Reising feels as if he's been stood up by his favorite professional sports franchise.
And there's no doubt he has been -- in more ways than one.
Reising is a die-hard Blackhawks fan, but his recent experience at the United Center has him swearing he'll never attend an NHL game in Chicago again. Reising, his 21-year-old son and a friend had standing-room-only tickets to the Blackhawks' March 3 showdown against the Edmonton Oilers.
They waited outside before the arena's doors opened and rushed to the 300 level's "Madhouse on Madison" bar as soon as possible. Too bad an usher forced them to leave their spots with threats that he'd call security, insisting standing-room-only ticket holders aren't allowed to watch games from the bar area.
By the time Reising and Co. tried to find a spot in the first-come, first-served, standing-room-only sections, they were doomed. With fans standing three or four rows deep, Reising, who's hardly short at 6-foot-1, couldn't even see the ice. Fuming with frustration, he left during the first period.
"The problem is they're selling way too many standing-room seats, which I don't think is fair," Reising said. "I think the public should know what they're getting into when they buy a standing-room ticket. I guarantee I won't buy another one."
With a per game average of about 21,200 fans cramming into the United Center, the Blackhawks rank second in the league in attendance this season. The demand and prices for the hottest tickets in town have certainly skyrocketed, too, leaving blue-collar guys like Reising, a drywall finisher who's struggled to find consistent work during the past year, in a bind because of the dismal economy.
Even a standing-room-only ticket has a face value of $25, and that doesn't include the $6.54 in service charges you'll be hit with for each one you purchase online. Don't forget to throw in the cost of parking and gas, too.
"It's not fair to the true Hawks fans that want to go see a game, and they can't 'cause they gotta buy standing room," Reising said. "It's kind of a trap."
Reising went to more than 20 Blackhawks games last season. This season, he's been to only four. There are many, many fans who feel his pain. They simply can't afford to purchase expensive seats, so they risk having a miserable time by settling for standing-room-only tickets. Comment after comment on Ticketmaster's online fan reviews echo Reising's complaints.
I also can vouch for Reising after attending this past Sunday's rivalry game between the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, which drew a season-high crowd of 22,309 and was Chicago's 84th consecutive sellout. From my overpriced, nosebleed seat in the 300 level, I could easily observe the cluttered standing-room-only section. There's no way everyone could see, and that's a shame.
Chris Werner, Blackhawks senior executive director of ticketing and business development, did not return my call to discuss this issue. That's a shame, too.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.