The 2013-2014 NHL season was my first full season as a Florida Panthers Season Seat Owner (SSO), and while the team didn’t perform well, it was certainly a memorable one. During the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season the Florida Panthers announced they would have $7.00 per game season seats and while I was on my way to a training camp practice, I decided to go all in and purchase the tickets for the 24 home games that season. Despite the team finishing last in the league, I had a good time attending games. The shortened season had me wanting more. So when it came to renewing, I got right on it for the 2013-2014 season and was excited to attend a full 41 game home schedule.

When the package finally came in the mail in late August I ripped it open to see the freshly printed tickets and flipped through them like a high school yearbook. The tickets, which featured pictures from the Panthers 20 year history, were fun to look at and beautifully done. Inside were vouchers for select games that could be redeemed for additional tickets, a parking pass which covered the $20 parking fee for all 41 home games, and a Florida Panthers Season Seat Owner pin.

I also received a jersey upon renewing that I had picked up during opening night as well as a discount card that could be used for 25% off in the team store and 10% off at all concession stands. I instantly took advantage of the 25% off by having my jersey personalized in the store with Alexsander Barkov’s name, the player the Panthers took second overall at the draft. However, with the excitement also came a few issues, such as the team store not having the numbers for the sleeves of the jersey, mainly due to the popularity of Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau. Since he wears the number 11 and Barkov wears 16 the one for shoulder numbers was unavailable since they ran out.

Each game I took my jersey back to have it completed and for nearly three weeks they told me to come back next game and they should have it. During this time I attempted to contact my ticket representative in hopes of informing someone of the issue and having it corrected quicker. When I never received a response I decided to write to the team President who has always had an open door policy with fans. Again I never received any response, but had thankfully had the situation taken care of.

At this point I decided to ask about my ticket rep at a game, only to find out that she was no longer with the team and someone should have contacted me. So I went to the SSO desk in the arena and asked them about it, they checked my account and found out the sales rep listed was one I had during the shortened season that had left in the summer and one would contact me. Three weeks went by without being contacted, I again reached out to the president in an e-mail informing him of the issue, along with a few other small things that had happened and never received a response after a week. So I took to Twitter and tweeted him about it since he’s typically good at responding to fans. Only after someone else had tweeted him informing him of me attempting to contact him did he reach out to me, respond to my e-mail and setup a phone call to talk personally.

When the two of us finally spoke I went over the issues with him again and he promised me they would work on correcting all of the matters because they are things that should not have happened and they don’t want them to again. He told me a representative would call me before 5:00PM and give me details on a new representative, which never happened. The next morning he contacted me via e-mail to see if they had contacted me, which I explained that they didn’t and he instantly he replied, “I’m on it.” Within an hour his head representative called and we had a discussion. I was given a senior representative’s office and cell phone number and lower level ticket upgrades for that night’s game.

Overall, this experience wasn’t ideal and made things difficult as far as requests or purchasing of tickets for events while I didn’t have a representative. But the fact that the team president contacted me directly and receiving a senior rep in place of someone newer to the organization was a nice exchange.

One other disappointment during the season was that SSO’s were promised tickets to concerts which they would be able to vote on which ones we received tickets for. But when the renewal process was announced this was changed to select concerts, which the team ,of course, selected. They were Stone Temple Pilots, Barry Manilow, and Jeff Dunham. The fourth concert was replaced by an additional ticket to any of the remaining home games with no blackout. I’m not a fan of either artist and wasn’t able to attend the Jeff Dunham show. The one game I attempted to use my additional ticket for wasn’t available for the game I needed, despite there being no blackouts.

The games are always fun to go to no matter what the outcome is, even with two back-to-back poor seasons. However, the experiences I had as being a Season Seat Owner my first full season were less than ideal and a roller coaster throughout the season. I was having second thoughts about renewing for the 2014-2015 season, but once it was announced that renewal packets were in the mail and would arrive soon, I jumped right at it. I guess you could say I’m a glutton for punishment, but one of these times it has to pay off with a shiny silver cup to visit right?