As the Missouri Mavericks approach their eighth season of existence it would be cliché to develop a Top 10 list list of things we love about our home away from home, the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. But, here at The Sin Bin cliché is just another French word that looks so important with its little stray pen mark above the “e”. So, in the spirit of being cliché, here are the Top 10 things Mavs fans have shared with me that they love about their home-ice.
#10 — Family: I’ve told numerous folks over the past 7 years that the family atmosphere at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena (SECA) is second to none and a Mavericks game is the best family ticket in town. Many fans have found a new family at the arena as well; whether it be a player they’ve adopted, a season ticket holder you’ve sat next to, or when you see James McGinnis and he flashes you the sign for “love”. Family is the people you care about whether there’s a blood relation or not and the Mavericks have done an outstanding job of bringing families together to create an Orange Army of fans.
#9 — Steve Garrett and Bob Rennison: I still remember listening to Steve at the original Orange and Black scrimmage at the Pepsi Midwest Center before the SECA was even completed. He was practicing his scripts for the different contests and advertisements between puck drops. I enjoyed the enthusiasm he brought then and it’s only gotten better over the years. His calls have become signatures in many homes around Kansas City; my own little boys love to hear “Missouri Mavericks GOOAAALLLL!!!” and “That’s goal #1 in the Backyard Burgers Six-Goal Shootout!” If you’ve never been in the arena early enough to catch a chorus of “Sweet Caroline” or the drum fill in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” with Steve leading the charge, you’ve missed a small part of the fan experience at the SECA.
Just as important as Steve’s connection with fans is the connection Mavs fans have with Bob Rennison. You can catch Bob walking the concourse of the SECA just before a game broadcast, chatting with fans and posing for photos sure to end up on someone’s Facebook feed. Always with a smile and a fist pump, Bob started a tradition a couple of years ago of turning the M into a W. It is safe to say, there is no bigger fan of the Missouri Mavericks than Bob Rennison. With his quick delivery and descriptive calls, Bob (along with Sin Bin contributor Ryan Gibson) have made the Mavericks professional in every aspect of their broadcast.
#8 — Corporate Sponsors: Believe it or not, minor league sports are a very risky business venture. We’ve seen in minor pro hockey over the last few years, teams fold when an owner’s cash fund dries up. The Mavericks have been and are blessed to have incredible business sponsors that see the importance of spending their advertising dollars at the SECA and in turn, the fans support those local businesses to encourage them to continue that investment. Pretty sure I’ve still got some Long John Silvers and A&W coupons from last season floating around here somewhere just waiting to get used.
#7 — FanFest: The annual preseason gathering of the Mavericks faithful is coming soon (September 10th). With the exception of one season, I have attended them all and what a great event it is for the fans, coaches, and players to come together and meet and greet with fans young and old prior to the grind of the regular season. Anticipation is as high as the temperature the second weekend of each September as Mavs fans pile into the SECA. This year’s event should be no different and you never know what The Sin Bin might have in store for you at this year’s event. Stay tuned!
#6 — The Players: The beauty of minor league sports is the relationships you develop from fan to player. Whether it’s through the Adopt-a-Mav program, waiting outside the locker room, going to a coach’s show or showing up at a player appearance; the Mavericks have some wonderful players and coaches who freely give their time to make each fan feel special. You might think that’s lip service, but to hear the players talk about the fans throughout our Mavericks Player Profile series I did last season, the answers were always the same. The fans make the players feel welcome in our community and they return that with freely giving us the time of day to catch a glimpse of what their lives’ are like.
#5 — Lamar Hunt Jr. and Brent Thiessen: I could write pages upon pages about these two gentlemen. 99% of all minor league sports franchises (and most professional ones) would beg to have the leadership that we enjoy with the Missouri Mavericks. If you haven’t had a conversation with Lamar Hunt Jr. before, that’s on you. It is a great blessing to have an owner that is so approachable and like many of us, came to one game and was instantly hooked on this organization. He now spends game days meeting with fans in the concourse and really taking the time to listen to each fan.
What more could be written about Brent Thiessen and the incredible job he has done molding this roster and this organization each year since it’s inception? The franchise has undergone growing pains from time to time, but Brent has been steady at the helm and helped piece together quality hockey rosters.
Both of these men are as approachable as you’ll find in sports and you’ll discover quickly how much they genuinely care about you, the fan. The understanding that there are numerous places you could spend your entertainment dollar, yet you chose to spend it at a Mavericks game, does not go unnoticed by these two gentlemen.
#4 — Contests and In-Game Entertainment: We chuck pucks. We watch our dad’s dance. We figure out who has the best hat hair. We sumo wrestle in big puffy suits and we try to guess which case has the biggest Carrabba’s gift certificate. This is another beautiful part of minor league sports; the promotions, games and in-game entertainment keep the crowd engaged throughout the game. Some have stayed around (chuck a puck) and some have been one time experiments (red light green light on the ice with no helmets), but the result is the same…we have fun!
#3 — The Games: Along with everything else, there is hockey to be played and the quality of play on the ice makes coming to the arena that much better each night. Even a novice hockey fan will enjoy the speed, agility and precision shown on a night-in, night-out basis. Leaving it all on the ice has never been an option when pulling on the orange and black, and the players have shown their commitment to their craft since this franchise began.
#2 — The Kids: Whether you’ve taken them to a practice (which you should if you never have), a game, a player signing, a Mac appearance or any of the numerous other opportunities the Mavs provide for kids; kids take priority with this organization. They add to the game day atmosphere with their joy and enthusiasm for the game day experience. I’ve never seen a kid walk out of a practice without a practice puck in their hands; typically autographed by numerous players and coaches. To see the joy on a child’s face when a player gives them a fist bump as they come on the ice is worth the price of the ticket alone. By taking kids to practice and having them get a fist bump or puck, we are creating memories they will never forget.
So, what would come in as #1 on our list of the 10 best things about the Mavericks and game days at the SECA?
#1 — You, The Fans: Since I sat in a sold out SECA (then the Independence Event Center) on opening night in 2009 and watched 5500 fans fall in love with a team when Carlyle Lewis dropped gloves off the opening faceoff, the fans have made this organization and game day what it is. From the Mavs fire truck to the tailgating in the lot in the middle of winter, you, the Orange Army, make the SECA a special place to be on game day. You bring the passion. You bring the “Let’s Go Mavericks” chant. You fill every fan’s prescription with more cowbell. You are the heart of this team and that’s what makes this place and this team special. The names on the back of the jerseys change, but the heart of the fans will always reside with the logo on the front.
So, as Steve Garrett would say…Are you ready for hockey?