A fellow intern and I made the trek to Columbus to take in Game 3 — the first ever home playoff game at Nationwide Arena. While there, I had a chance to talk to some fellow Wings’ fans about their experiences at the game.
According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Blue Jackets’ playoff tickets sold out 25 minutes after going on sale. Some fans waited in line nearly 24 hours before the tickets became available to ensure they were able to see Nationwide Arena’s first ever playoff game. The tickets were released to the public before CBJ’s opponent was announced. Combine that with the significance of Tuesday’s game and the lack of tickets certainly acted as a deterrent to many Detroit fans from out-of-state.
I was surprised by the small number of Wings’ fans in attendance considering the close proximity of these two cities. It quickly became quite evident that we were a very small minority in the crowd. A couple Columbus season ticketholders told me that there are usually a lot more Wings’ fans in attendance at DET-CBJ games during the regular season.
Some Wings’ fans were slightly concerned that they would be treated at Nationwide Arena as if they were a University of Michigan fan at a UM-OSU football game, but that ended up not being the case for most Detroit fans.
“I came up from Cincinnati for the game and as I said before, the experience has been exceptional,” Porter said. “You get the occasional chirp here and there, but that’s to be expected.”
Mike Tuttle grew up a Wings’ fan in Toledo, Ohio, but now calls Columbus home. Game 3 marked his second CBJ game of the season and was one of the fortunate few to buy tickets for less than face value as he got lucky on eBay. “It hasn’t been as rude as an Ohio State-Michigan experience if I was a Michigan fan but I’m a Buckeyes fan, but it’s been fairly respectful,” Tuttle said. “A couple shoulders thrown I guess is the best way to put it.”
Megan Cieszkowski made the trek down to Columbus from West Bloomfield, Mich. She purchased tickets online on Sunday night and traveled down with a friend to take in Game 3 after catching Games 1 and 2 at the Joe. “I knew that all of their tickets went on sale before they [Columbus] knew who they were playing so I knew they wouldn’t have a lot of Wings’ fans because all of their tickets sold out in like three hours so I figured I would come down here and support the Wing anyways,” Cieszkowski said.
Tiphani Crane and her friend Jennifer are Michigan transplants now living in Cincinnati, who made the nearly two-hour drive from Cincinnati to take in the game.They paid double face value to get tickets to Game 3 and noted the razzing they received from Columbus fans in attendance.
Even the Wings’ fans attending the game were pleased to see the Blue Jackets finally make it into the postseason for the first time. “Even though I’m not a Blue Jackets fan, I’m excited to see the Blue Jackets have a playoff game finally. They’ve been very supportive of their team and they should be because it’s a long time coming,” Tuttle said.
The CBJ franchise has brought $2.5 billion in the region according to a study released today, but it isn’t just economic factors that have made a difference to the region.
Ninety-four percent of fans surveyed during a March game said they were proud of Columbus for having an NHL team, 78 percent said they think the team paints Columbus as a “big-time city,” while 86 percent said the Jackets helped to bring Columbus together as a community.
Tickets for Game 3 in Columbus ranged from $80 to over $500 on StubHub.com before the start of the series.