Hockey and beer with a view: Sea Dogs add ice-level bar
198 seats behind the home goal removed so fans can watch game and have a beer
At Friday's home opener, Saint John Sea Dogs fans will be able to get closer to the action, while taking in a beer.
But they'll have to stand.
To increase the fan experience, the Sea Dogs have removed 198 seats behind the home goal. In their place, a standing-room only area called the Alpine Ice Bar will allow 150 fans to watch and drink at ice level.
Alpine Ice Bar
"What we're trying to do is create more of a social space here at Harbour Station," said Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie.
The bar will bring hockey fans not only closer to the ice but also closer to the home team.
"Players walk right through all the fans standing, hanging out in the ice-level bar," said Georgie, pointing out some teams in the NCAA and Toronto Football Club offer similar experiences.
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According to Georgie, the ice-level bar is the first of its kind in the Canadian Hockey League. He hopes to increase both ticket and beer sales with the social atmosphere.
"We think that it's a place that people will be able to start their night out at," said Georgie.
It also gives the opportunity for those who secure one of the 150 spots to improve their view regardless of where they purchased their ticket.
The whole set-up is mobile, with televisions, tables and the bar able to be moved out for other events. Elwood's Wood Lab was commissioned to build four long tables and the bar.
The tables are made from reclaimed wood from a former box factory in Nova Scotia. Tim Cressman, the woodworking shop's co-owner, said the tables were made narrow so fans could hear each other.
Cressman also said a lot of attention was paid to ensure the tables would survive even the most boisterous games.
"They're going to get beat around," he said with a smile. "They're going to get pounded on hopefully during some games that the Sea Dogs are pulling ahead on."
Not everyone thrilled
Not everyone will be able to get into the area, as it is a licensed bar. The Sea Dogs players will be the only underage people to pass through, and that's just to get to the ice.
While Georgie expects the area to be extremely popular, he admitted not everyone was thrilled about it. In order to make room for the bar, several long-time season ticket holders had to give up their seats.
Georgie said the team worked with those fans to relocate their seats, but wasn't able to please everyone.