How Many Seats?

I’m a “stat geek.” Always have been, always will be. Now I’m no “math nerd” (Calculus was my least-favorite class in college), but I have an appreciation for finite numbers and the role they play in quantifying things – especially in sports.

That’s why it bothers me when a fancy new arena like the Ford Center is built, and VenuWorks (the company in charge of managing the facility) makes statements like “seating capacity is around 9000″ and “the lower bowl holds about 6000.”

Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena seats 17,113 for Predators hockey games, not “around 17,000.” Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis has a capacity of 18,165 for Indiana Pacers basketball, not “about 18,000.” Green Bay’s historic Lambeau Field holds 73,128 “cheese heads” for Packers games, not “somewhere north of 70,000.”

There really shouldn’t be any “arounds” or “abouts” in this discussion; there must be an exact seating capacity for each of the Ford Center’s various configurations. After all, the arena lease specifically states that the number of tickets sold for an event can not exceed the number of available seats. So there MUST be a “maximum” number for each event.

We know that the number depends on the type of event – hockey, basketball, end-stage concerts and center-stage events (like boxing and pro wrestling) will each have a different seating capacity. That’s understood.

I’ve asked folks in the IceMen front office about the facility’s capacity for hockey, and they only seem to know (or they’re only willing to share) the same approximations that VenuWorks has made public.

I’ve also asked VenuWorks directly, and I was essentially told that there are different configurations (thank you but I already know that) and that the exact numbers won’t be made public because they’re afraid people will start comparing apples to oranges.

Well, here at IceMenManiacs.com, we’re (obviously) primarily interested in knowing the building’s capacities for hockey games. We won’t compare apples to oranges because we really only care about one fruit.

The thing is, the Ford Center is a public venue. When you’re there for an event, you can wander around the building and take notes, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so.

So that’s exactly what I did. I don’t need the IceMen office or the VenuWorks staff to give me exact numbers, if they don’t want to. All I need is two eyes (even though mine don’t work very well without assistance), a pad of paper, a pen, and a calculator.

Before a few recent IceMen home games, I spent some time walking around the entire arena, counting seats row-by-row in every numbered section. I jotted down the numbers, added them all up, and voila – I now have exact seating capacities for each of the building’s three hockey configurations!

SPECIALTY SEATS

• Sections 216 and 217 are sold as “party decks” for all IceMen games, available for group purchases. These sections have a combined 47 permanent seats in a single row (Row G), plus floor space that normally serves as 34 spaces for handicap patrons and their companions during other events. During IceMen games, the total maximum capacity of the two “party deck” sections is 100, according to EvansvilleIceMen.com.

• Handicap (and companion) seats are independently “ticketed” seats, meaning you can actually purchase handicap seats at the box office if you have reason to do so. According to the “Select Your Seat” map on Ticketmaster.com, there are normally 178 total spaces for handicap patrons and their companions, with 110 in the lower bowl and 68 in the upper bowl. (As mentioned above, 34 of the 68 upper-bowl handicap spots are used as part of the “party decks” for IceMen games.) Since it is unlikely that all of the handicap seats are needed for any given event, I have calculated totals both with and without the handicap sections.

• According to the “Did You Know” page on TheFordCenter.com, the Suites have a total capacity of 316. There are also 95 Loge seats, counted in person and later confirmed on Ticketmaster.com.

ROW BY ROW

• No section contains a Row I (as in “ice”) or a Row O (as in “ouch”), in order to avoid potential confusion with numerals.

• Lower-bowl sections consist of 15-20 rows. There are 20 rows (C-X) in Sections 101, 102, 109, 110, 111, 112, 120 and 121. There are 19 rows (A-U) in Sections 104, 107, 115, 116, 117 and 118. There are 18 rows (B-U) in Sections 103, 108, 114 and 119. There are 17 rows (C-U) in Sections 105 and 106. And there are 15 rows (E-U) in Section 113.

• Upper-bowl sections consist of 1-15 rows. There are 15 rows (A-Q) in Sections 201, 202, 203, 204 and 222. There are 14 rows (A-P) in Section 220. There are 12 rows (A-M) in Section 221. There are 9 rows (G-Q) in Sections 205, 206, 207, 208, 209 and 210. There are 8 rows (G-P) in Section 219. There are 7 rows (G-N) in Sections 214 and 215. And there is just 1 row (G) in Sections 216, 217 and 218.

ADD ‘EM UP

I personally counted all of the building’s seats that are designated by Section, Row, and Seat Number…

• Excluding handicap seats, my count for the lower bowl added up to 5784 seats. (If you add in the 110 lower-bowl handicap seats, the total becomes 5894.) The lower bowl’s largest sections are 102 and 120 (with over 400 seats in each), while the smallest section is 113 (which has 104 seats).

• Excluding handicap seats and the “party deck” sections, my count for the upper bowl (sometimes marketed as the “balcony”) added up to 2998 seats. (Include the 34 upper-bowl handicap seats that aren’t part of the “party decks” and the total becomes 3032.) The upper bowl’s largest section is 201 (which has 338 seats), while the smallest section is 214 (with just 15 seats).

Thus, there are 8782 “section-row-seat” seats for IceMen games. (This total does not include handicap spaces, the “party decks”, Loge seats, or Suites.)

HOCKEY CAPACITIES

The maximum capacity for IceMen games depends on the configuration used…

• The “standard” configuration (used for most games) consists of all of the lower bowl’s “section-row-seat” seats (5784), all of the Suite and Loge seats (411), both “party decks” (100), and 110 spaces for handicap patrons and their companions. The total capacity of the “standard” configuration is 6405, or 6295 if you don’t count the handicap sections.

• The “expanded” configuration (used for some games) consists of the “‘standard’ configuration” plus Sections 205-210. (This is the configuration with the curtains raised on the “team benches” side of the upper bowl, which adds 941 seats to the capacity.) The total “expanded” capacity is 7346, or 7236 if you don’t count the handicap sections.

• The “full house” configuration (used for some games) consists of all seats available for hockey, with all of the upper-bowl curtains raised. (The addition of the remaining 11 upper-bowl sections adds 2057 “section-row-seat” seats and 34 extra handicap spaces.) The “full house” seating capacity is 9437, or 9259 if you don’t count the handicap sections.

In general, if visually estimating the actual attendance at a game, it’s probably best to start with the “section-row-seat” capacities. (Thus, start at 5784 on most nights, 6725 for the “expanded” configuration, and 8782 for a full house.) Then just add in however many fans you see using the handicap spaces, Suites, Loge seats, and “party decks.”

Hopefully these numbers will help eliminate some of the debate about estimated “butts in the seats” counts at IceMen games!

ON A RELATED NOTE…

Please visit our Info & Features page and check out our new and improved “IceMen Ticket & Arena Info” section!

We now have much more info about ticket prices and purchasing, including a breakdown of how single-game ticket fees vary by price level and purchasing method. Now you know exactly how much you can save by buying your tickets at the Ford Center instead of through Ticketmaster!

We’ve also upgraded our Ford Center seating layout graphic, which now includes seat-numbering info and the locations of handicap seating, restrooms, elevators and escalators, and more.

If you find this information helpful, please pass it along to your fellow Maniacs. Never be afraid to share your love of IceMenManiacs.com!

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