D. Joseph Buys
The Mining Journal
249 W. Washington St.
Marquette, MI 49855
In a Feb 20th Mining Journal article, sports editor Craig Remsburg cited the Events Center 'a gem'. I could not disagree more. As a NMU hockey fan since the inception of their hockey program, I am very disappointed with the hockey environment at the Barry Events Center. Commercialism and profitability have overridden what I have for so many years found to be a wonderful sport to watch. Similar to professional sports, NMU hockey has become more a business and less a sport.
· Seating rows are so tight your knees hit the seats and fans in front of you. Seats are so narrow that sitting sideways is often necessary. Getting past fans to get to your seat is a major task. Everyone has to stand, blocking other fans’ views and missing plays. I feel NMU missed a golden opportunity for comfortable seating in favor of the almighty dollar, squeezing in added seats and another row or two to earn more money. Walking around between periods is very difficult because of the congestion caused by the narrow isles and concession lines.
· I am tired of being bombarded by advertisements, ranging from ads posted around the whole rink, flashing on the lighted announcement board, and announcers referring to the “official NMU rental car company” and “official NMU movers” and the many things they do for NMU, and so on. Then there are the subtle TV and radio commercial delays during the game (watch for the red towel near the opposition penalty box which tells the officials not to drop the puck yet.) Add to this the “advertising blimp” circling the rink between periods. All this advertising doesn’t seem to lower ticket prices though.
· As I sit seeing 2 goaltenders at the far end through the distorted Plexiglas, I am subjected to loud snippets of obnoxious music, played at every break in the action. The “music” is played at a volume level that is offensive to me, often conflicts with the band, and literally precludes any decent communication with others. Is this loud “mandatory music” supposed to help fans enjoy the game? It does just the opposite for me. I prefer fan noise.
· Last but not least are the puck-shooting and blimp coupon-dropping contests between periods. I didn’t buy annual tickets to be forced to stay longer while these contests (more opportunities to advertise by, e.g., winning a sandwich for each goal) are held. However, because the between-periods clock stops while contests are held, this forces me and all the other fans to spend extra time watching something I suspect most would gladly do without. Let’s get the ice refinished and start the next period of hockey.
I’m now doing some soul searching to find enough positive reasons to return next season. That’s something I never had to do before.