Wheat Kings make several changes to gameday experience, rink improvements

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After an 18 month layoff from Wheat King home games being played at Westoba Place, fans attending Friday night’s home opener against the Winnipeg Ice will notice many changes inside the rink as well as the game day atmosphere.

Today BDNMB.CA had a chance to fire some questions at Wheat Kings staff.

First question that people seem to want to know about, what are some of the technology changes that fans attending home games can expect.

There has been a major upgrade in the sound system with all new sub-woofers being installed that will create a more balanced sound for music, jumbotron videos and public address announcements.  The show lighting also received an upgrade with new NHL caliber Go-Bo light systems that will enhance the visual presentation both pre-game and in-game. We have also partnered with FanEx to delivery even more in-game interactive fan engagement right on your smart phones during games through the Wheat Kings mobile app.  This technology will not only allow fans in the arena to play along, it will also have the ability to connect fans around the world during both home and away games.

I am not sure how many years Wheat Kings have been on CKLQ and Q Country 91.5 but you have moved across the city to Bell Media and Bounce 96.1, walk us through this.

Our new partnership with Bounce 96.1 is a great way to grow our brand across Westman. The on air radio personalities at Bounce including Mike Lamb, Matt Gates and KC are all huge Wheat Kings fans and will now be working with Branden Crowe and Peter Gerlinger to bring more Wheat King coverage to the fans than ever before. The only thing that changes for fans is the number on the dial is now 96.1. Fans can also listen to Wheat Kings hockey anywhere in the world now from the iHeartRadio app on their mobile phone. Perry Bergson returns for his 6th season as co-host of the pre-game show while retired pro hockey player Alex Plante joins the team as the in-game analyst.

Explain to fans the facility changes to the boards and glass etc.

The boards and glass have been upgraded to now meet all NHL standards and specifications. This is not only a benefit for improved sightlines for our fans, but most importantly for the safety of our players. Fans that attended the Future’s Game and Pre-Season game will have noticed it really adds to the energy level in the building with sections of boards shaking after big hits.

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New ownership has almost fully cleaned house with an all new staff, can fans expect some new ideas and concepts?

We are seeing staff turnover all over the industry right now, due to the long 18 month layoff between home games for WHL teams. Our new staff and returning staff have worked hard to quickly implement themselves into the new vision of the ownership, whether that’s on the hockey side or the business side. There will always be challenges when planning for a WHL season, but our staff have been quick to adapt and are embracing the future, while honouring our past as fans will see reflected in our facility improvements.

Always a topic of conversation is the music, and being a former DJ it is impossible to keep everyone happy, can we assume some changes are instore and will “CLAP YOUR HANDS CLAP YOUR HANDS” be retired?

We have contracted Trident Music as the new in-house DJ. The crew at Trident will handle all of the in-game music production and effect lighting. The new lighting system has the technology to be synced to the music, increasing our capability to produce a one of a kind WHL in-game experience. We also plan to utilize several local bands in the arena to heighten the in-game experience pre-game and during intermissions.

Game day changes with ticketing (plus COVID) people will have to be double vaccinated and wear a mask at games.  What is all involved this season and moving forward?

The biggest changes with game day operations will be the implementation of the Digital / Mobile ticketing system. Fans can now skip the lineup and get their game ticket online and right on their phone. No more waiting at the box office. The Keystone Centre is also moving ahead to a cashless facility. Only one box office window and one concession will accept cash, this should allow for faster service and less congestion.   Fans are encouraged to come to the arena early, as the new Vaccination Checkpoints at the two entrances require proof of ID and Vaccine. We are all new to this process, and the more patience shown and time allowed will make the whole entry process smoother and safer for everyone.