A Fan Looks at the DECC Expansion

     Long-time Duluth News Tribune news writer John Myers has been a Minnesota Duluth hockey season ticketholder for 15 years. He took advantage of tours being offered by the DECC to get a look at the $80-million expansion rink and check out where he might like to sit when the building opens Dec. 30.

      Rink and Run asked Myers to review his view of the tour earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say:

     As of Wednesday the new arena seemed nearly complete as a structure. The only thing missing are the seats, boards and ice sheet (and lots of other detail stuff that will take the remaining eight months to finish.)
    Former Minnesota Duluth player Skeeter Moore walked our group of season ticket holders through most of the new complex, allowing us to see the sightlines from various sections around the arena.
   The new skywalk is installed that links the new arena with the DECC parking ramp and downtown skywalk system.
   The sub floor is finished and the part of the floor with the ice-freezing pipes is ready to go in over the next few weeks.
   The new area seems very modern, although some parts appear a little too compact, such as some of the walkways. The sightlines are great (but so were the ones at the old DECC for that matter.)
   There will be no wasted or extra space around the rink itself — the fans and seats will be right on top of the action.
   The best part is that all walkways and main mezzanine are behind or under the seats — at no point will fans be walking in front of any seats (except going into their row and seat, of course.) Front row seats are now prime, although this layout will effectively curtail the student section’s post-Bulldog-scoring run around the interior concourse of the arena with the UMD flag.
   The only spot you are unable to see the action on the ice is when they walk behind the luxury boxes.
   Students and the band will get lower level seats in the harbor end of the arena — the home end, or UMD offensive end twice a game.
   Folks who don’t want to climb stairways should avoid buying tickets in the upper section. There is no elevator service to the upper section and no concessions, so its up and down the stairs every time.
   This part may have been inevitable in this day of corporate sponsorship, but there is a sense of status in the new building that will separate Duluth’s rarified gentry from the rest of us. The old DECC always seemed kind of folksy, egalitarian even. There were no luxury boxes, no donors club in the arena, no special seats. That changes now with a wealth of luxury boxes, a party room for game-day sponsors and a new Bulldog Club where a season ticket holder can pay an extra $300 per year to watch the game and quaff beer or wine. That’s on top of the regular ticket price.
   The price for season tickets remains $15 per seat per game, a deal these days. But the new arena brings a $100 per-year, per-seat surcharge for the best seats (lower level between the blue lines) and $50 for other good seats (lower level between the faceoff circles and upper level nearest center ice.) The money goes to the Bulldog scholarship fund.
   The good news for us blue collar slobs is that there apparently will be a new Blue Line Club where the public can enjoy a fermented malt beverage between periods without any entry fee or membership. The room will be outside the view of play and will be considered outside the arena itself. (Of course, the line will be long when the Sioux or Badgers are in town.)
   Other notes: The new "glass’ around the ice will indeed be tempered glass, not Plexiglas, with the real glass offering more clear, less distorted views. Several prime viewing spaces have been set aside for handicapped fans and their attendants at the top of the lower level.
  There will be an up-scale grille and pizza shop in addition to traditional concession stands. Team buses can pull directly into the arena, out of the elements, to load and unload gear. The arena can accommodate up to seven semi-trucks and-or buses inside when rock groups come to play. There will be no entry or exit on the Fifth Avenue side of the building, only on the parking ramp side facing the existing convention center.

9 thoughts on “A Fan Looks at the DECC Expansion

  1. The 5th Avenue West exit will return at the end of construction. Patrons will be able to exit directly onto Railroad St, Harbor Drive on the east side by the Irvin and on 5th Ave West to get on I-35.

  2. I didn’t mean vehicles, I meant fans. Skeeter said the arena doors on the 5th Avenue West Side will not open except in an emergency, and all fans will have to exit toward the parking ramp. But yes, cars can exit in the same three directions as before, as I understand. FYI.

  3. Fans may exit via foot from both the east and west sides of the building after the event ends. Entrances will be via skywalk from the new DECC ramp off of the Northwest Passage. A new entrance is also being constructed in the existing ticket lobby. Fans may continue to be dropped off in the ten minute parking lot on the harbor side and use the current ticket lobby to enter events in the New Arena, Original Arena and Auditorium. There is no public entry from the 5th Avenue West side of the building, but fans will be allowed to exit to the west down the stair towers at event’s end.

    I’d invite anyone interested in UMD season tickets and wanting to see the construction to contact the UMD ticket office at (218) 726-8595 to arrange a tour. They are quite informative and well worth your time.

  4. I didn’t ask, and maybe Jeff S. knows, if we can still enter by the Vista office doors and walk through the old arena (or the convention center) to get to the new arena. I’m assuming yes. Those of us who pre-function in Canal Park like to use that door. Jeff??
    Hey Running,
    Even the upper deck seats will be very good. The building seems very cozy for 6,300 people!!

  5. I didn’t ask, and maybe Jeff S. knows, if we can still enter by the Vista office doors and walk through the old arena (or the convention center) to get to the new arena. I’m assuming yes. Those of us who pre-function in Canal Park like to use that door. Jeff??
    Hey Running,
    Even the upper deck seats will be very good. The building seems very cozy for 6,300 people!!

  6. All entries to the building will remain the same. If you are visiting the canal park establishments, simply walk across the blue bridge and up the stairs at the Vista entrance. You can either keep walking down the skywalk and take a left at the ramp to get to the new arena or follow the yellow line to the existing ticket lobby.

    Actual seat selection will take place in September if all goes according to schedule.

  7. I am planning to get upper deck seats, I like that view. I’m hoping to get the top row because I like to stand. And sometimes pace.

  8. Did the tour last month and the place looks great!
    Does anyone else think they blew it by not having the Bulldog Club on the other end of the rink where the Dogs shoot only once? Kinda sucks seeing all that prime seating go to waste.
    Oh well, I guess $$$ talks.

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