When purchasing tickets on Ticketmaster for concerts, sports events, or other live shows, you may notice that some seats are labeled as “side view” or “obstructed view”. These designations indicate that your ability to see the stage or field may be partially blocked in some way from those seats. Understanding the difference between side view vs obstructed view can help you make an informed decision when selecting tickets.
In short, a side view seat provides a limited angle on the event while an obstructed view seat has a physical obstruction blocking your sightline. Side view seats are located at extreme left or right sections that prevent you from directly facing the main action. Obstructed views have a structural impediment like a pillar, railing, scoreboard, or other fixture that impedes the line of sight.
While side view and obstructed view seats are less desirable than front and center seats, they also tend to be listed at lower price points. Fans on a budget may find these seats to be a reasonable trade-off for the ability to get into the event at a cheaper cost. Others simply want to get in the door and don’t mind sacrificing some visibility.
What is a Side View Seat?
A side view seat provides a view from extreme left or right angles rather than a straight ahead viewpoint. These seats are located on the far ends of a venue, off to the sides of the stage or field. While you can still see the performers, sports action, or main event, your perspective is limited since you are viewing it from the very side.
In a concert venue, side view seats prevent you from seeing the front center area of the stage. You’ll have clear visibility for any action happening on your side, but will need to turn your head to see the other side. The same is true at a sporting event – sideline seats let you see game action on your side of the field, but not necessarily what’s occurring on the other end.
Some key characteristics of side view seats:
– Located on the far left or far right sections of the venue
– Provide a direct side angle rather than head-on view
– Limit visibility of centered action on stage or field
– Offer clear sight lines of activity happening on your side
– Tend to be very affordable ticket options
– Allow you to be in the room for the event at a cheaper price
While side views make it difficult to see anything straight on, they can still provide an immersive experience with a unique vantage point. Fans sometimes enjoy the chance to see performers and athletes up close from these extreme side angles.
What is an Obstructed View Seat?
Obstructed view seats have some type of structure or fixture that physically blocks your sightline to the main stage or field. Common obstructions include:
– Pillars – Large poles, columns, or supports in the venue blocking views
– Railings – Bars, fences, railings along aisles or balcony edges
– Scoreboards – Large screens, scoreboards, or video cubes impairing visibility
– Overhangs – Ceiling beams, architectural overhangs, upper decks above your seats
– Stage Equipment – Speakers, lights, production gear on stage gets in the way
These impediments are permanent installed parts of the building that can’t simply be moved or avoided. As a result, your seat has a major object partially impairing your view. You’ll have to contort your body and crane your neck to peer around the obstruction depending on where it’s located.
Venues try to note obstructed view areas on their seating charts when you go to purchase tickets. You may see designations like “Limited View”, “Obstructed View”, “View May Be Obstructed”, or something similar. Checking carefully for these labels can help you avoid buying a seat where your sightline is impaired.
Obstructed views are typically the cheapest seats in the house since the major obstruction is factored into the pricing. As with side views, obstructed view seats can be a budget-friendly way to get in the door and experience the energy and atmosphere of a live event. Hardcore fans may not mind sitting behind a post or pillar as long as they are present in the venue.
Differences Between Side View vs Obstructed View
There are a few key differences that separate side view seats vs obstructed view seats:
Side views are located in the last rows on extreme left or right sections of the venue. Obstructed views can be anywhere – front, back, or mid-section – depending on where physical structure impediments are situated.
Side views provide a direct sideways angle. Obstructed views are trying to offer a front or center perspective but have an object blocking the sightline.
Line of Sight
Side views have open visibility that’s simply limited by direction. Obstructed views have a physical object impairing the sightline.
Type of Limitation
Side view limitations are due to directional vantage point. Obstructed view limitations result from poles, railings or other fixed structures blocking seats.
Side view pricing tends to be on the lower end but not absolute bottom dollar. Obstructed views are typically the cheapest seats in the venue.
Side views let you clearly see everything happening on your side. Obstructed views have fuzzy or blocked visibility depending on obstacle.
So in summary, the limitations of side views are due to their extreme angled perspective on the far sides. Obstructed view limitations derive from interior infrastructure like poles physically blocking sight. Both offer cheaper access in exchange for compromised visibility.
Examples of Side View vs Obstructed View Seats
To illustrate the difference between side views and obstructed views in practice, here are some seating diagrams from real venues:
Concert Venue – Madison Square Garden
In this chart, the 200-level end sections are marked as Side View. Sections 204-208 and 223-227 are at extreme left and right angles. The views of center stage will be limited from these side perspectives.
Meanwhile, sections 204 and 227 are also labeled as Obstructed View. This is due to equipment and structures impairing the sightline, in addition to the side angle.
Sports Stadium – Wrigley Field
At iconic Wrigley Field, the front row of the upper deck in the infield is considered obstructed view. The overhang from the upper deck and beams underneath extend out over those seats, blocking views of the field. Fans in those spots will have to constantly scoot side to side to see between the beams.
Theater – Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Within this Broadway theater, sections B101 and 102 are marked as obstructed view. Large pillars in these areas block sightlines. Patrons will need to lean and peer around the pillars during performances.
Who Buys Side View vs Obstructed View Seats?
There are a few key groups of people who commonly end up buying side view or obstructed view tickets:
Price-sensitive fans on tighter budgets may specifically seek out side view and obstructed view tickets since they are typically the most affordable options. These seats let budget buyers get in the door for lower cost. Hardcore fans often don’t mind sacrificing visibility as long as they are present in the excitement.
Procrastinators buying tickets at the last minute will often be left with side view or obstructed view seats. Prime seats in the middle sections get bought out first. Last-minute shoppers may have no choice but to purchase cheaper side or obstructed seats if that’s all that remains.
StubHub & Resale Buyers
Similarly, people buying resale tickets on StubHub near event time will find mostly side view and obstructed view still available. Good seats have already been bought on speculation. Resale buyers are left picking through what scalpers couldn’t sell.
Very tall patrons may intentionally seek out obstructed view seats behind poles or in corners. This allows them to stretch out legs without bumping seat neighbors, since obstructed seats have more open space. Tall fans are willing to trade visibility for extra legroom.
Families & Big Groups
Large families or groups needing blocks of seats together may get relegated to side or obstructed sections. It’s the only area where they can find consecutive openings to accommodate a big party. Group organizers have no choice but to take whatever’s available.
Tips for Picking Side View vs Obstructed View Seats
If you decide to purchase side view or obstructed view tickets, here are some tips to get the best value:
Check Seating Charts
Scan venue charts closely looking for “Limited View” or “Obstructed View” sections. This will clarify what you’re getting. Sometimes obstructed areas are not labeled clearly.
Read Reviews & Amenities
Research fan reviews and seat views from your specific section. Look for insights on how impaired visibility is. Check amenities like beverage service, legroom, and bathroom access.
Don’t hesitate to call box offices with any questions. Ask exactly what the view limitations are and whether your exact seat row is impacted. Get the facts before buying.
Make purchases early during presales to get the best side view or obstructed view seats. Front rows of these sections go quickly, even if they are obstructed. You want first pick.
Get to the venue early so you can find your seat and assess sightlines. If vision is worse than expected, you may have time to politely ask ushers if you can move to open seats in your section with better views.
Pros & Cons of Side View vs Obstructed View Seats
Here’s a quick rundown of the main pros and cons of purchasing side view vs obstructed view tickets:
Side View Seats
- Less expensive cost
- Get you in the door
- Clear views of action on your side
- Unique sideways perspective
- Limited view of centered stage/field
- Have to strain to see opposite side
- Not ideal views for perfectionists
Obstructed View Seats
- Deeply discounted prices
- Often with better amenities than top sections
- Can lean and peek around obstructions
- Physical objects blocking sightlines
- Missing key action due to impediments
- Neck strain from contorting for views
To summarize, side view seats offer angled side perspectives while obstructed views have sightline impediments like poles and railings. Side views are on the corners, obstructed views can be anywhere. Both provide access to events at reduced prices compared to prime seats. Fans on budgets or buying last minute may prefer them over missing the show entirely.
Carefully researching obstructed and side view sections using seating charts, reviews and asking questions can help you have a positive experience. As long as you go in with proper expectations, these seats allow you to get in the building and feel the live event energy.
Hardcore fans know it’s ultimately about being present in the arena or stadium no matter what. As long as you are there cheering on your team or rocking out to your favorite band, the concrete details of view visibility become less important. Side and obstructed seats are for lovers of live events on a budget.