PHOTO: Panthers to curtain off upper-deck seats next season?

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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Attendance issues in Florida are nothing new to hockey fans. The Panthers have been bad for years and that's a bad mix with a non-traditional hockey market (and an all-around tough area for a sports draw).

They have tried numerous creative approaches to get butts in seats but if you've watched a Panthers home game on TV you'll know it hasn't really worked very well. So now it looks like they'll go with the next-best option; to eliminate seats.

One thing not many people realize is that the BB&T Center is a big arena with a capacity for hockey just shy of 20,000. Next season that capacity looks like it will come down thanks to the help of some very simple interior decorating: a curtain.

The Panthers confirmed that curtain or more tarps will be in effect for next season.

For the big games (see: any time the Montreal Canadiens are in town), the curtain could be peeled back and perhaps if the Panthers have a reversal of fortunes and see the playoffs again. But otherwise, the seats will be out of commission.

Panthers writer George Richards for the Miami Herald has a bit more.

Then again, we've see fans at Panthers games with awfully obstructed views before and that didn't make them move.

Considering the arena is very rarely full, it's not like it will do much harm, the Panthers have already been putting tarps over some section anyway. It beats seeing empty seats but it won't help the franchise's image.

The Panthers, by the way, are 28th in the league in average home attendance at 14,623.

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