What do you get when you combine the talents of a man with over 10 years of experience in Minor League Baseball entertainment and 10 students willing to work for him? You get the “Fun Team,” Assistant Director of Athletic Promotions and Ticketing Stephen Colvin’s way of describing his workers and what he hopes to achieve night in and night out at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
Colvin, a former employee of the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Class-A Short-Season affiliate of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, works closely with his student interns during basketball and hockey games, promoting fan interaction in Quinnipiac athletics.
“The big thing is just to keep everybody involved,” Colvin said. “And just with my experience in the last 10 years of working in minor league baseball, that pretty much set the stage for me because in baseball, you have to do something every half-inning.”
Colvin, who also works as a disc jockey on the side, has attended numerous meetings and seminars to help come up with forms of entertainment.
“I’m always kind of a student of the game, where I’m always trying to figure out what will be entertaining,” he said.
Colvin said he’s come up with original concepts involving the game of hockey. He’s held many different types of shootouts on the ice during intermissions.
“We dress [the participants] up ridiculously with all of the equipment from head to toe, spin them around 10 times and then they have to get the puck in the goal,” he said. “I don’t really care if they get it in the goal, I just want to see some comedy and them fall down and laugh because you have 3,300 people here trying to be entertained.”
Colvin also has contests during basketball games, usually involving a student making a layup, free throw shot and 3-pointer in 30 seconds.
Colvin estimates that 80 percent of the games and contests he hosts at games have come from his work or based on his work during his experience from the last 10 years.
While the hockey games are most always sold out while school is in session, filling up the basketball side of the arena has been a struggle.
“It’s a hockey town. It’s a hockey state,” Colvin said. “Basketball is still a growing program. Having coach (Tom) Moore come on board and rebuilding the roster, we’re doing lots of promotions and have been working with the student groups trying to increase attendance.”
As a result, Colvin has scheduled the biggest promotions for basketball games because there is typically a large draw of students wanting to see a traditionally nationally-ranked hockey program. He said the biggest student crowd he’s ever had at a basketball game last year was for Irish Night, when all fans received a green Quinnipiac T-shirt. This year, a gray long-sleeve T-shirt and a tailgating stool will be distributed.
“We’re not drawing where we need to start drawing, so that’s why we’re constantly doing different promotions and giveaways,” Colvin said.
Colvin tries to get feedback from his student workers, wanting to see what the word on campus is.
The arena has also been used for other events. On Nov. 18, an open skate took place, drawing close to 90 students. Moreover, the intramural basketball finals were held on Lender Court for the first time.
“It was the first time that we’ve actually opened the doors to the student body to do special events,” he said. “Based on that success, I think there’s a chance to do some more in the future.
“The biggest thing with opening the doors to the arena, first and foremost is basketball and hockey and is creating a program that is entertaining for the fans and entertaining for the students. Before this arena ever opened up, they never did giveaways.”
The construction of the TD Banknorth Sports Center, according to Colvin, has created much more attention to a school that is usually best known for its polling institute.
Scores of Quinnipiac sporting events have been displayed on ESPN’s rotating ribbon on the bottom of the screen, and some results of games have even been read on WFAN-AM in New York City. Moore has also conducted interviews with Mike Francesa and his former partner Chris Russo on one of the most popular sports talk shows in the nation, “Mike and the Mad Dog.”
“Our sports information works very diligently, trying to get us out there and getting the word out,” Colvin said. “Before this arena came here, there wasn’t that much to talk about. It’s definitely a great tool for recruiting players.”
Despite the beauty of a new arena, it remains a challenge to get students to the games, mostly due to student apathy.
“There are 7,500 people on campus, and there are maybe 1,000 who are die-hard athletic fans, so there are a lot of people on campus that have never even been to the arena just because of their lack of interest,” he said.
Men’s ice hockey also has the benefit of having games on weekend nights, while men’s basketball is usually played early in the afternoon on Saturdays or on a weekday night when students could have classes.
Students could also be turned off by having to wait on lines for shuttle buses to and from the arena.
Colvin acknowledges it’s a hassle for seniors to come to the games because they have to park on campus and ride the shuttle bus to the arena. 300 new parking spots are being used this year, and a new parking garage is currently under construction.
Though the arena has faced growing pains, Colvin is happy to be doing something new. He has worked for established organizations prior to joining the Quinnipiac athletic department, but he has never started somewhere in the beginning.
“I’ve been around in different avenues of professional sports, but I’ve never got an opportunity to open up a facility or open up a brand new stadium or an arena, so I was quick to jump on board with Quinnipiac,” he said.
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting to come here and start something new and it’s exciting to work with the students on a regular basis and pick their brains and see what works and what doesn’t work. I love the game atmosphere.”