About the White Nets

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | , , , | 1 comments »

Nobody likes change.  Especially a change that has little-to-no warning.  Double-especially on a change to a product or service after it has been paid for.  Sometimes change can be for the good, sometimes... not so much.

Last night at Verizon Center, a pre-season hockey game between the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets took place.  The Caps beat a Jackets team comprised mostly of AHL'ers 3-1.  Michal Neuvirth was solid in goal, veteran defensemen Dennis Wideman and Roman Hamrlik looked like they've played together for 10 years, and the "Mighty Mites" line of Cody Eakin, Matthieu Perrault and Chris Bourque provided a bulk of the scoring, leading the Caps to their first win of the pre-season.

But all anyone is talking about is the new white netting behind the goals at Verizon Center.

Yeah, there were a lot of folks in the arena complaining about the new nets.  Twitter was blowing up about it.  Bloggers blogged and pundits... pundited?  Anyway, we had to see for ourselves exactly how bad it really was.

Not that great, eh?

The problem, at least from our season tickets in Section 104, is that the white netting reflects the light not only from above, but the light that bounces back from the ice surface, leaving the protective netting much like trying to see through gauze.  The white netting actually draws your eyes' focus to the netting instead of through it. The black netting that has been in use in previous years absorbs the light, making your eyes focus though the netting to the play on the ice.

At least one other team acknowledges this phenomenon.  On the Detroit Red Wings official team page, there's a whole paragraph dedicated to the netting on their tickets FAQ. 
Why is the netting black and not clear or white?

The league conducted extensive research to determine the type of netting that would maximize both protection and visibility. Test results and other factors led the league to conclude that black netting accomplishes both of these very important objectives because it absorbs light, rather than reflecting it, and causing possible distortion of your view. The league determined that the white netting refracted the light and drew your eye to the netting, as opposed to directing your focus through the netting and onto the players on the ice. The monofilament or clear netting also reflected light and is more difficult to work with because of its elasticity. The league concluded that black netting was optimal and the Club agreed.

Was the netting selected for TV reasons and not for the fans who sit in the seats?

No. The consensus of all involved in the league's research was that the black netting was preferential both in-person and as broadcast on television.
The Detroit Red Wings at least claim The League concluded that black netting was optimal both in-person and as broadcast on television.  So why the switch at Verizon Center?

Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com had a blog post Monday before the game explaining the idea, that the team thought it would provide better viewing for fans -- both in the arena and on television -- noting the idea originated from a Comcast Sportsnet producer.  It seems in practice the nets didn't really have the intended effect.

This morning, as reported by The Washington Times Steve Whyno, the Capitals are re-evaluating the white netting after the complaints from the fans that attended the game.  Monumental Sports & Entertainment spokesman Kurt Kehl confirmed the team made the switch intending to make the game easier to watch both in the arena and at home, but said:
“If it doesn’t solve one of those or both of those, it’s not worth moving forward with it,” he told The Washington Times. “If it’s something that’s distracting and disruptive of our fans viewing the game, we’re not going to continue with it.”
The Capitals, and owner Ted Leonsis, are normally very sensitive to the needs and complaints of their core, the season ticket holders.  Mr. Leonsis routinely patrols the concourses, talking with fans about the game-day experiences.  He solicits fan input regularly and publishes his e-mail address for fans to reach out to him with their concerns. 

If the original idea was indeed believed to benefit the fans, and the opposite occurred, I'm fairly confident the team will properly address the situation.

The Capitals play at home again Friday night against Buffalo.  I guess we'll all be waiting to see the color of the protective nets.

UPDATE:  Ted Leonsis made a comment very similar to Mr. Kehl on his personal blog this morning.


  1. markjacktechnicalsupport // January 20, 2012 at 6:58 AM  

    I'm hoping that they completely remove storage limits. Do it for April Fools Day. Then buy Dropbox and do the same thing.
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