Why Are There So Many Empty Seats?

Even the Most Popular Events Don't Have a Packed House

By Published on .

Chien Hwang
Chien Hwang
Last night, I went to the highly anticipated U.S. vs. China men's basketball game. This game was possibly the hottest ticket at the Olympics so far, after the opening ceremony, of course. It was so big, in fact, that U.S. President George Bush, his father, the former President Bush, his wife, Laura and daughter Barbara Bush all attended. I believe there were also a few bigwigs from Omnicom, like Michael Birkin and Serge Dumont, at the game. I felt lucky and honored to have scored tickets to the event.

After I settled into my nosebleed seat, I was quickly absorbed in the game, admiring my NBA heroes like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and even getting a little teary with pride for the scrappy Chinese team.
President Bush at the U.S. vs. China men's basketball game.
President Bush at the U.S. vs. China men's basketball game. Credit: Chien Hwang

It didn't take long for the NBA guys to start punishing the Chinese team, however, so I soon started to look around this newly built basketball cathedral. I noticed the fans, the flags and too many empty seats in the prime areas of the arena. I could not believe my eyes.

Considering the magnitude of this game and the general popularity of basketball in China, the empty seats seemed more than a little odd. Certainly, many people wanted to go to this game. I've heard the same thing is happening at other key events. Seats have been consistently empty in the prime areas, even though the upper decks usually have a packed house.

I have no explanation for the empty seats, but I've heard plenty of rumors. The most common are: "Those tickets were handed out to government officials"; "The corporations took them all"; and "They were packaged into sets and given to people without an interest in this sport."

Whatever the actual reasons are, I hate to see tickets get wasted. If there's anyone out there with government or corporate tickets in hand they don't want, let me know. I'll happily fill your empty seat.

U.S. vs. China men's basketball game.
U.S. vs. China men's basketball game. Credit: Chien Hwang

U.S. vs. China men's basketball game.
U.S. vs. China men's basketball game. Credit: Chien Hwang


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