The reinstatement of 3-on-3 overtime periods wasn’t the only wish granted to Bulldog hockey fans on Thursday as the University of Minnesota Duluth announced beer and wine sales are being expanded beyond the private suites and Champions Lodge to all of Amsoil Arena for UMD men’s and women’s games starting with the 2018-19 season.
DECC Executive Director Chelly Townsend said in a release that the transition will be smooth and safe for fans as restrictions will be in place on the student section. A designated alcohol-free, family-friendly section is also being established.
The DECC does not share any of its Amsoil Arena concession stand revenue with UMD - same goes for parking - though UMD athletic director Josh Berlo said he does expect to see some indirect revenue from the addition of beer and wine at games.
Growing feedback and requests from hockey fans over the past few years was the driving force behind the change, Berlo said.
“We’ve been hearing from our fans the last couple years that they have the desire to have access to beer and wine during games,” Berlo said. “We’ve heard that through our annual fan survey and fan advisory board and in conversations with season ticket holders.
The move puts UMD in line with most of its National Collegiate Hockey Conference rivals. St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha, Denver and Colorado College already serve alcohol at games, while Miami and Western Michigan do not. Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Minnesota State-Mankato and Bemidji State serve alcohol at their arenas during games as well.
Alcohol was also served at the NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul last season, a first for NCAA hockey.
“We want to make sure we have the ultimate fan experience,” Berlo said. “We felt like it was time to pursue that and work closely with the leadership at the DECC, Amsoil Arena.”
The Bulldog hockey season gets underway at Amsoil on Sept. 22 with a women’s exhibition against the Minnesota Whitecaps. The men open their NCAA title defense at home against Minnesota on Oct. 6.