NHL ice hockey franchise Arizona Coyotes will close off four upper level sections and cover them in tarp at its Gila River Arena home.
According to ESPN, the team has been in a bottom three position in the league’s attendance records every year since the 2007-08 season. This year, the team is in second-last with an average of 12,961 per game.
“We will be tarping off four upper level sections in Gila River Arena for the majority of our home games. These sections (205, 211, 220, and 226) have not sold well in the past,” Coyotes spokesman Rich Nairn told local reporter Brahm Resnik.
“We will be working with current season ticket members to select seats in comparable locations at the same price point. Removing some of this excess inventory and concentrating our great fans closer together represents an opportunity to improve the fan experience at Gila River Arena.”
The Coyotes are looking to secure a new, smaller arena with a larger bowl, allowing the franchise to raise ticket prices for premium seats. The team’s management deal with the city of Glendale was terminated in 2015 and it has been working to secure a new arena since then.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has called on the Arizona senate to support plans to build a new arena after it emerged that several lawmakers are refusing to back a bill that would provide $225m (€212m/£179m) in public funding for a proposed $395m arena. Arizona State University had previously backed out of a deal to build a new arena in Tempe.
The team’s current lease at Gila River Arena, its home since 2003, runs through the 2017-18 season.