By: John Miller
Even though the Dragons didn’t earn a victory in its first home football game, spirits were high and thirst was quenched.
Dragon Fire and MSUM Athletics kicked off the 2017 football season by hosting the first Dragon Fire Endzone Extravaganza on Sept. 7. The main attractions at the event were food trucks, yard games and a beer garden. Yes, a legally-conducted beer garden on MSUM’s dry campus.
The action began at 5 p.m., two hours prior to the Dragons’ home-opener against Southwest Minnesota State.
Dragon Fire’s objective was to appeal to more fans and create an exciting environment around Scheels Field, where Dragon football plays its home games. Dragon Fire president, Matt Oachs, felt a beer garden was the next step in engaging fans over 21 years old.
“We were looking to engage multiple age levels early in the season,” Oachs said. “And with some of the social events Dragon Fire has hosted in previous years, this seemed like a natural progression to move the event outdoors and create additional exposure for Dragon Fire by inviting everyone.”
The process to get a beer garden approved was no small task, as it took about five months of planning. Proper city ordinances had to be followed, permits needed to be obtained and the final approval had to come from President Anne Blackhurst.
“I thought it was a unique deal that hasn’t been tried before,” Oachs said. “The hoops to jump through were pretty substantial, but at the end of the day I feel like the five plus months of planning paid off.”
The approval was granted, and Brickhouse Tavern supplied and served the beer.
For Dragon students, the beer garden was a great attraction as some would be more likely to attend sporting events in the future if the Endzone Extravaganza was present.
Taylor Sele, a senior and member of the women’s rugby team at MSUM, was excited for the Endzone Extravaganza and saw the beer garden as the centerpiece. She thought it boosted the atmosphere and helped fans come together. Sele thinks many other students 21-and-older would agree with her.
“I feel as if (the students) better came together as a whole,” Sele said. “The student section was different than it normally is. It was louder, everyone was cheering and people seemed much more interactive.”
Sele said the Endzone Extravaganza was well-executed, but not perfect, as they ran out of beer multiple times. Her advice for how to improve next time is to ensure they have enough product. Another recommendation is to extend service beyond halftime, maybe until the end of the third quarter.
Due to the overall positive reaction by students and fans, Oachs is hoping for the Endzone Extravaganza, or something similar, to be at future MSUM sporting events.
“We are looking for additional opportunities to engage people to see Dragon athletics and expose them to Dragon Fire,” Oachs said. “We are exploring options for Homecoming and hopefully will have further communication out if that happens.”
Whether the next beer garden appears at homecoming or farther down the line, expect a good showing of thirsty Dragon students and fans.