Updated: January 16, 2021 06:30 PM
Created: January 16, 2021 04:36 PM
For the first time since March 2020, the DECC welcomed a limited number of Bulldog hockey fans back to Amoil Arena this weekend.
“To have real people, real reactions, it is a night and day energy difference inside the arena,” Roger Reinert, Interim Executive Director of the DECC said.
According to Reinert, the limited number of fans includes close family and friends of hockey players.
“We're just thrilled. It is a turning of the corner—even the small number,” Reinert said.
Though small in number so far, UMD hockey player Anna Klein said the sight and sound of fans is motivating and electric.
“It’s fun to see your parents up there. My dad was barking during the opening night, so I mean, you can't get any better than that. It's a little embarrassing, but you've got to love it,” Klein said.
Fans too—including Klein’s dad—said he was thrilled to be back to cheer on the Bulldogs.
“I'm the dad that isn't afraid to embarrass my kid at any possible moment, so when they hit the ice yesterday, I was barking as loud as I could,” Billy Klein said. "I mean, it's a celebration right? You spend 15 to 20 years following your kid and supporting them in their endeavors and then they get to this stage and you know, they won't say it, but I know they love having us in the stands."
Lorrie Rogge, a mom in attendance also voiced her excitement about being back.
“For me, it’s been almost over a year since seeing my daughter actually skate live, so this is pretty fun,” Rogge said.
The DECC hopes to welcome more fans back in the near future. According to Reinert, they are working with the Minnesota Department of health to come up with a plan to do so.
“We think that we can provide a really safe guest experience by using separate entries, exits and bathrooms and concessions,” Reinert said.
Reinert said the DECC is still figuring out exactly when more fans will be able to return, but said they are prepared for that day. “We hope to lead the state in these efforts,” Reinert said.
WDIO will continue to follow updates from the DECC on when more fans will be allowed back.