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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Xcel Center hockey game produces more than $148,000 in revenue


The MSU Athletics Department has received $148,247.80 for the Jan. 14 Mavericks-Gophers hockey game at Xcel Center, university officials announced today.

The funds, transferred to MSU last month, far exceed the university?s initial expectations, thanks to high attendance at the game. It was the second-largest crowd to see a hockey game in Minnesota this season, with attendance of 17,019.

MSU Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman expects his department to net about $135,000 from the game after local expenses, including the cost of 13 shuttle buses that provided free round-trip transportation to the Xcel Center. (Four additional buses were sponsored by downtown Mankato businesses.)

The game originally was scheduled to be played in Mankato, but in early December it was moved to the Xcel Center, where ice time was available because of the NHL lockout. MSU officials agreed to move the game to generate additional hockey program revenue, and to gain exposure in the St. Paul area. (The Twin Cities is home to more than 22,000 MSU alumni.)

?We are very pleased with the financial results,? said Dean Trauger, MSU?s vice president for Finance and Administration. ?We were concerned about the financial impact that moving the game could have on the Midwest Wireless Civic Center and local businesses. By reinvesting those proceeds, we hope to build a larger hockey fan base which should benefit the Midwest Wireless Civic Center and local businesses in the future.?

Trauger indicated that $100,000 of the proceeds will be added to the existing balance in the Blue Line Club scholarship endowment, which will permanently support future grant-in-aid awards. The university will also commit $30,000 to begin market research, which will become the cornerstone for an overall marketing plan designed to boost attendance at future MSU athletic events.

The search for an independent market research firm will begin immediately, and some results should be ready in time to supplement 2005-2006 athletic marketing efforts, already underway. University officials are seeking an athletic marketing plan with promotion components that can be used interchangeably to focus promotional efforts on high-profile sports, and that will further leverage the estimated $4 million in annual economic impact generated by MSU athletics.

Buisman said several organizations have expressed interest in partnering with MSU in the new athletic marketing initiatives, including the Greater Mankato Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has pledged financial support.

?I want to thank all of our fans who supported the team throughout this process,? Buisman said. ?The process was sometimes contentious, but I think more people understand some of the long-term implications of the decisions that we made.?

?Some estimates have placed our share of the crowd at between 40 percent and 50 percent of the total, and that suggests strong interest in the program. We need to find a way to convert that level of interest into regular support, and begin filling the Civic Center every night. The future success of the program depends on building a stronger core base of fans, and the exposure created by this game will assist us in those outreach efforts.?

?The pre-game alumni event hosted by University Advancement and the Alumni Foundation was filled to overflowing,? Buisman added. ?For a number of our alumni, it was the first time they had attended a Maverick hockey game since graduation and this was a great way to reconnect them to our program.?

The large crowd at the Xcel Energy Center created significant additional publicity for Maverick hockey, head coach Troy Jutting said.

?Given the way we played on that particular night, the venue had nothing to do with the outcome, but it had plenty to do with the exposure our program received, and that will benefit us a great deal over the long haul,? he said. ?Highlights of the game were broadcast nationally on ESPN?s Sports Center. Our new mascot logo was at center ice on the state?s grandest stage for hockey, and the broadcast was in millions of homes across the country and in Canada.

?Add it all up ? the revenue, the future marketing opportunities, the increased visibility ? and I think people will realize that the decision will prove to be a good one.?

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