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April 03, 2019

April 2019 MIAMA Board Member Article – Walt Bruley
Once again I have had the pleasure in my retirement to travel the Great State of Hockey, following my Grandson’s Bantam A team to State in Moorhead. Here is my impression of what you do as Arena Managers.
#1. For me, watching the people in the arena trying to find that one place that is comfortable. The seating, the sight lines and the temperature. OOOH MY the temperature is the thing I saw the most as to how fans in the stands like your rink. There are some rinks so bone chilling cold, with no stand heaters, that fans wait until the puck drops to enter and with seconds left head for the lobby. Not fun. Sure most have glassed in warm areas to watch. To me it’s like watching the game on your living room easy chair with the sound on mute. Those warm areas are usually full, so, is that an indication of how fans feel about the inside of your arena?
#2. Once in the arena, it becomes an entertainment issue. How to keep the fans energized. What I have noticed big time is the sound system. The fans I saw were laughing, dancing, singing along and of course the play selection is important, one that caters to the parents age group. In those rinks the fans were happy and in a great complimentary mood. That’s GOLDEN. Also when your team scores it’s not always a sure thing as to who scored. If the announcement is NOT made that is a downer. If it IS made and you can’t hear it or understand it….double downer. Those things become very important to those in attendance.
#3. Of course cleanliness is obvious, especially around the concession stand and the bathrooms. Oh man the bathrooms, some folks will not ever go into a facility bathroom. Not good. You do not want to be that rink. Running out of paper, bad plumbing, not attended to. Sure these are obvious, try looking at your rink on a Saturday afternoon during a big tournament, you are short handed, you have two rinks, 4 teams coming, 4 team leaving and 4 teams playing. You know the drill, you have been there. What priorities have you set.
#4. Concession stands. It’s what, in many cases, makes your weekend. Not everyone has a for profit concession, if you don’t, it’s run by an association or private group, guess what? You are judged by what happens in that concession stand and around it. Never think because it’s not your deal that it does not hurt your attendee experience. Folks are just looking for clean easy food sold by charming well dressed attendants who make them feel comfortable and welcome. If you do run it, you know how those details work.
#5. Parking lot and entryways. Working at a large facility all my career, one thing that was pounded in to the psyche of all employees is that customers coming to your facility will start judging your efforts from the moment they approach your facility. The very first thing they encounter will likely set the tone for their time inside. Much of this is out of your control, such as parking issues and the number of spaces, lighting, handicap spaces, plowing and keeping up with weather changes. One thing that helps with this is communication. Being able to make sure attendees are somehow made aware of the limitations and where to alternatively park and get into the facility. This is the age of communication and people will understand easier if they are informed.
A rink I had visited last year had an uneven concrete sidewalk slab that was a tripping hazard causing someone I was with to have a serious fall. On the return trip this year, nothing had changed. It was still there and some attendees were actually talking about it. Action, however it has to be carried out, needs to take place on issues of safety.
So, you already know this stuff. You even have kids who play and you go to other rinks and facilities and see what is good and bad, do you see your rink for the first time when you get back? Ask around, yes I know that is dangerous and you might not like what you hear but we are in the age of communication. If you are not seeing it in your rink, others likely will.
MIAMA is so great at making you look at things to make your rink better, to make you a better manager. Things like the Spring Workshop coming up and the Fall Conference are so very important to making a difference in your career as well as all that information and energy coming back as positive improvements to your facility. MIAMA provides Regional Meetings around the state that inform as well as giving you the opportunity to see what others have done and are doing to solve problems you may be struggling with.
Be aware and see you at the Spring conference.
Walt Bruley / Alumni Member

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April 2019 – MIAMA Board Member Article