The new Grant Harvey Centre is helping draw more and more fans to Tommies hockey games this season.
“In some ways it has to do with the building and the newness of it,” said Mike Eagles, St. Thomas University Athletic Director. “People want to come out and see it.”
Fredericton’s new facility is home to the male and female teams. Both have seen noticeable increases in spectators.
“The men have had 1600 fans in attendance when playing against UNB. Those kinds of nights help increase attendance for other games as well,” said Eagles.
Katie Brewster, alternate captain of the Lady Tommies, believes the Grant Harvey is beneficial to student morale as well as the teams in general.
“The Grant Harvey makes you feel important to STU and like the school wants you to get the best of everything,” said Brewster.
Brewster says the women’s team used to attract about 100 fans a night. This season, average attendance has been more than 300 people.
“Most of our fans were just family and friends but we’ve noticed a lot more support from the community this year. I think that definitely helps integrate STU with the community, and the Grant Harvey is a big part of that,” she said.
The Grant Harvey can hold 1500 spectators. The men’s team often draws large crowds, filling on average 800 seats a game.
The quality of the arena is credited with the hockey program’s newfound popularity. Ample amenities and a relaxed atmosphere help the Grant Harvey sell tickets.
“The LBR was rough. People like going to the Grant Harvey. There’s good parking, it’s comfortable temperature-wise, the seats are comfortable. You can’t say enough about it,” said Eagles.
The Athletics Department is also putting more of an effort into promoting the teams and their residency at the Grant Harvey.
Eagles said by supplying tickets to businesses who advertise in the arena, more people are getting the chance to attend games in the new building.
“We’ve had the ability to make more corporate partnerships. Part of our operating agreement gives us the ability to sell the advertising in the building, so we’ve created corporate partnerships, and have used those partnerships to help generate interest in our programs.”
But a brand new facility isn’t just a positive for the hockey teams. State of the art ice surfaces and training areas are seen as incentives for prospective students.
“The new facility is a real positive. It’s one piece of the puzzle in the recruiting picture, and will certainly help recruiting going forward. It’s a beautiful facility,” Eagles said.
Brewster also believes the Grant Harvey can only add to STU’s reputation. “There’s a lot more to help show what we have to offer to potential students. These facilities are the best in the league, so it will definitely want to make the best players come here.”
Eagles said this season is just the beginning for the Tommies.
“There’s a lot of growth area for attendance. Right now it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our attendance can continue to improve, and we’ll keep drawing bigger crowds.”