WINNIPEG - Ron Wersch got a surprise when he walked up to his usual seat for the first NHL exhibition game in Winnipeg this season: a wall of Plexiglas and metal to his front and side that blocks his view of a good portion of the ice.
"In my wildest dreams, I never imagined it would be this bad. Never, ever," Wersch said Thursday.
He is one of many Winnipeg Jets fans who have found their view of the ice obstructed this year thanks to a new section of pricier loge seats that has been added to the upper deck.
Wersch's two season tickets used to be in the front row of the upper deck, with Plexiglas in front of him. Now, there are loge seats in front of him, a staircase beside him, and thick metal rails to keep everything in place.
He can't see one of the faceoff circles and he has to lean forward to see the net closest to him. That creates tension with people behind him, who then have to lean forward to see past him.
"We start a domino effect going up behind us. If we lean forward, now we're obstructing the people's view behind us."
True North Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Jets and the 15,000-seat MTS Centre, didn't advise fans that their views were going to be obstructed, according to Wersch and several other fans who took to social media to vent their frustration.
A True North spokesman said fewer than 200 seats have had their sightlines directly affected by the renovations, and efforts are underway to address concerns, although he would offer no details.
"We are now in a better position to identify the location of those seats whose sightlines have been negatively impacted by the addition of the loge seating," Scott Brown wrote in an email after declining an interview request.
"We are currently reviewing the specific locations and are working on a plan to address the concerns. As you might appreciate, a number of factors must be taken into consideration as we navigate next steps, including compliance with building codes to ensure the safety of our customers."
Given that Jets games sell out, it's unlikely that Wersch and other fans can be moved to different seats.
U\unless the guard rails, stairs and Plexiglas can be removed, Wersch feels the only option is a partial refund on his tickets.
Prices in the upper deck start at about $80 a game, although season-ticket holders get a discount. The loge seats run about $100 more.
"You pay based on your location in the arena. And now that the location is the same ??? but the view is dramatically affected ??? I'm not sure how they cannot say, 'Well, we're going to offer you a discounted price.'"