On a chilly Saturday in Melbourne I headed down to Docklands to check out the Melbourne Mustangs Australian Ice Hockey League match day fan experience at O’Brien Group Arena and was pleasantly surprised and impressed by a few things here.
• The venue was a sell out with the standing room only section three to four deep
• A pumping loud atmosphere was created throughout the match from the fans banging and cheering away behind the perspex barrier. The slapping of the pucks on these was intense and exciting to watch and was certainly captivating younger fans
• Gold coin donations for posters and game day programs and a merch desk staffed by passionate volunteers. The team here all do a fine job to look after their fans and sponsors on game days
• The upstairs bar featured American beers and F&B options as well as a nice vantage spot with comfy chairs which overlooked the action on the ice. I’d have to now say that this is up there as one of Australia’s best game day venue vantage points
• Combo meals and babyccinos for kids the latter of which was the first time I had seen this on a venue’s concessions menu board.
• Family fun fan engagement with interval races and puck shot challenges to keep the crowd entertained
• Free parking validation with every ticket. Now that’s one way to win fans over and end the fan journey well.
Overall a highly enjoyable experience at the Mustangs and O’Brien Group Arena with a few nice touches and what I’d have to say is one of the best venue bars and seating spots to take in a match. The AIHL is certainly worth checking out at some point to see how they engage fans on game days.