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NHL's Senators create special section for fans to emulate soccer games and 'be loud'

The Ottawa Senators are using fan engagement strategies from soccer teams.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at St. Louis Blues

There is a great emphasis on keeping the attention of fans during games. Too often teams are embarrassed by jumbotron shots at home games of fans with their eyes fixed to their cellphones during critical moments. The Denver Nuggets couldn’t even get Gary Harris’s mom to pay attention to her son during his first game.

Often home crowds are overrun with apathy or indifference towards the game itself, but not the Ottawa Senators fans in Section 319.

The second-youngest of NHL Canadian franchises, the Ottawa Senators, began a 10-game experiment this month with the Red Scarf Union, a fan group made to emulate similar types of groups popular in soccer stadiums all across England and Europe.

“For those games, fans in that section can bring in drums and flags, they can stand up the whole time and they can make as much noise as they want,” said Chris Atack, the Senators’ director for season-ticket and group sales. “They still have to respect the code of conduct — no profanity, no drunkenness, no abusive language, no throwing things — but otherwise, be loud and have fun.”

Tickets for the Red Scarf section are being sold at huge discount via a special Senators’ email address, and the message being sent to those fans is clear: “Be loud and get rowdy.”

If the Senators are successful in turning their normally tame arena into one of the more hostile places in the NHL, this type of revolution could soon spread throughout major sports leagues. One of the more enchanting aspects of international soccer is the level of fan involvement and passion, and it will be interesting to see if American fans are able to match their international counterparts.

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