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BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: Mailbag #7

Wednesday, June 2nd
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: Mailbag #7

BIRD’S-EYE VIEW:  Mailbag #7

Blog #38 – June 2, 2021

by John Peterson

We’ve reached June again. The heart of summer.

It’s been 15 months since our last hockey game. A little more than four months remain until our 2021-22 Home Opener.

As things begin to open back up, sports teams and leagues are allowing fans to return safely and it’s been exciting the see. The playoff atmosphere in Raleigh at the Carolina Hurricanes/Nashville Predators first round series brought back great memories of the way things used to be two years ago.

Madison Square Garden in New York City was rocking for the first two games between the Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks. The PGA Championship final round at Kiawah Island, South Carolina was electric as Phil Mickelson became the oldest golfer to win a major. I had the chills watching it.

All of these events, combined with the excitement of our recent 2021-22 schedule release led me to realize we hadn’t done a Mailbag in a while. The last one was way back in October!

So we compiled a list of FAQs and other fun inquiries from the past few months to get you ready for the home stretch. It won’t be long now before the puck drops at Wings Event Center again.

Q: Will the sections be at full capacity for the Home Opener?- Tara S.

Let’s start off with the million dollar question. The short answer is: we hope! Things are trending in the right direction, and we’re confident Michigan’s reopening plan will go as scheduled so we can play a full season at full capacity. Right now, we can’t promise anything, but we’re preparing for a best-case scenario (out of full transparency). We’re optimistic here. This is obviously dependent on vaccination numbers and state/local health regulations.

But seeing full NHL and NBA arenas in recent weeks has been promising. We’ve also taken every possible step to enhance Wings Event Center’s sanitization measures and safety protocols over the last several months.

Currently, we’re offering our Home Opener Ticket Packages in two reserved sections, which also allows us to accommodate our Season Ticket Holders, but we’re hoping to open it up to more sections very soon.

Q: When will season ticket holders be able to pick up their ticket packages?- Kasey J.

Season ticket packages will be available for pick-up in October during training camp. Full and Half Season Ticket Holders will be able to swing by the arena the week leading up to our preseason game (which we haven’t officially announced yet), and will be able to pick up their tickets, lanyard and gift at that time.

We’ll have more information available, including exact dates as we get closer, so stay tuned for that. Your K-Wings account representative will also reach out in the weeks prior to pick-up. If you haven’t secured your half or full season tickets yet, fill out an inquiry here and someone from are team will be in contact to help answer any questions that you have.

Q: When will the promotional calendar be announced and when will single game tickets go on sale? - Rebekah F.

We are finalizing the details of our 2021-22 promotional calendar as we speak, and we’ll release it to the public soon. I’m confident in saying fans will be exciting by some of the returning theme nights, a few new events altogether and some crazy surprises mixed in. We have new giveaway items, sweet specialty jerseys and celebrity guests. Stay tuned!

As for single-game tickets, those will go on sale in September as we approach the final stretch before the start of the season. This is the case every year for a number of reasons, but as we get closer, we’ll announce exactly when that is. Until then, we have a number of ticket packages available for those who intend on making it to several games throughout the year. This is also the best way to get the best seats and best prices ahead of the single-game ticket on-sale.

Q: Do you have anything new for sale this summer?- Karlen S.

Glad you asked. There are a few brand new offerings this summer, which we’re excited about (and so far have seen a great response from the community). For the first time, as noted above, we launched a Home Opener Ticket Package that includes a K-Wings branded facemask, hand sanitizer, and a concessions voucher.

We also unveiled our 9-Packs, which are perfect for fans who want discounted tickets and many of the same benefits as Season Ticket Holders, but can’t commit to a Full or Half Season. The 9-Packs also come with three free Flexi Tickets which can be redeemed at any K-Wings game, depending on availability.

Finally, our Business Insiders package is perfect for companies looking for tickets they can give to employees and/or clients. It comes with brand exposure and exclusive hospitality and networking opportunities. Oh, and we’re sure the Merchandise Arena has something up its sleeve for cool new items when October rolls around.

Q: Who is one K-Wing from the 2019-20 season who showed potential that you’d like to see return next year?- Joan P.

This is a great question and I don’t want to leave anyone out. There were several players that showed potential and either had their seasons cut short due to injury or came into their own right as the pandemic stopped everything short. For arguments sake, I narrowed it down to two players.

Matheson Iacopelli arguably was playing his best hockey of his pro career before a February 2020 injury ended his season. The former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick averaged over a point per game the last month of the 2019-20 season and was a threat to score every time he was on the ice. Ian Edmondson was so reliable on the back end and was well-deserving of the K-Wings Rookie of the Year. Another year under his belt this season in Rapid City can only help his progression, and it would be great to see what he could accomplish if he returns next season (the K-Wings have his playing rights).

Q: What is your favorite away arena to visit in the ECHL?- Jordan K.

Another tough questions, because it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. If we’re talking favorite city to travel to in the ECHL, it might be Boise, Idaho or Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve never been to any of the arenas in the North Division, or any of the Florida teams’ rinks, so that narrows things down by default.

I still think the best venue to catch a game on the road is Toledo’s Huntington Center. It’s always packed and the crowd is raucous. The press box is state of the art with a perfect vantage point of the action. They have a great locker room set-up, the arena is a short walk from the hotel and an accommodating staff.

I will say that I’m ecstatic to visit Iowa’s Xtream Arena for the first time this year when the K-Wings visit the new Heartlanders franchise. I’m also looking forward to returning to Utah’s Maverik Center for the first time since 2019 (Kalamazoo’s first time there). That’s where the 2002 Olympic hockey tournament was played. The other arena I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time this season is Worcester’s DCU Center.

Q: Since we opted out of the 2020-21 season, what are we calling the 2021-22 season? The K-Wings’ 47th or 48th?- Tina H.

I’m glad you asked. We debated this very topic for weeks during the pandemic. The 2019-20 season was the 46th in K-Wings history. The team that started play in Kalamazoo in 1974 was supposed to hit the ice in 2020-21 for its 47th season, but when we opted out, we weren’t sure how to handle it. It was the first year without Kalamazoo Wings hockey since 1973.

Next season will technically be the 48th year since the franchise started playing at what was formerly called Wings Stadium (now Wings Event Center). But since 2020-21 was a wash, we won’t count it. The upcoming 2021-22 K-Wings season will be our 47th officially. Great question.

Q: Now that Vancouver and Utica split, are the K-Wings tied to Vancouver and Abbottsford, or Utica’s new affiliation?- Dave B.

For those new to the chat, a few months ago Vancouver and Utica mutually and publicly parted ways. The affiliates who made up the top two tiers of the pyramid that included Kalamazoo will have new partners heading into the 2021-22 season. Utica announced a new relationship with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils after it was announced the latter was splitting up with the Binghamton Devils at season’s end.

Vancouver then announced their intentions to bring their AHL team closer to home and start up that team in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Now that everyone is caught up, what does this mean for the K-Wings going forward? For starters, Kalamazoo had a two-year agreement with the Canucks (and Comets) which ended this summer, even though the K-Wings didn’t play a season.

Should that contract get renewed, the K-Wings would stay with Vancouver and therefore Abbotsford. If not, Kalamazoo could go in a number of different directions depending on which NHL/AHL teams are without affiliations. But it looks like New Jersey/Utica is off the table (assuming the Devils stay with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder next year).

Q: If someone were to spend a weekend in Minneapolis, what should they make sure to do?- David F.

Oh man, it depends on how much you’re looking to accomplish and what time of year you travel to the Twin Cities. As a sports fan from Minnesota, my first recommendation would be for you to try to take in a Twins baseball game. Target Field is a beautiful stadium and still one of the newest in Major League Baseball. The food options are incredible and the views are outstanding. Thank me later.

For a great hole-in-the-wall food option, check out the Blue Door Pub, home of the famous Juicy Lucy hamburger (with a side of tots). If you like tourist-y things, carve out a day at the enormous Mall of America in Bloomington. I’ve been there too many times to count, so it’s not a place I’d have on my list, but if you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit. If you enjoy art, check out the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center downtown Minneapolis. For a night of comedy, hit up Acme Comedy Club, a famous spot where many big-name comedians got their start. Music lovers might want to spend a night at First Avenue, a world-renowned venue where all the stars performed before making it big.

--

Bird’s-Eye View is a Kalamazoo Wings blog, written by the team’s Director of Public Relations/Broadcaster John Peterson twice weekly. The thoughts, opinions and behind-the-scenes stories are that of the writer alone and not a reflection of the organization as a whole. Fans are welcome to submit questions and ideas for future blog posts to jpeterson@kwings.com. Enjoy!

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