A young woman in a thin blue denim jacket approached the ticket window at the Independence Events Center box office as the wind whipped the flags and the temperature dipped below the freezing mark.
She inquired about the Missouri Mavericks’ “Pay What You Can Game,” which takes place at 7:05 tonight against the Quad City Mallards.
The Mavericks were offering tickets to the game at whatever price a fan was able pay.
“It will be my first Mavericks game,” said the young fan, who said she walked to the Events Center to inquire about tickets. “I can't wait. It's going to be so exciting.”
While tickets for tonight's game are available today for half price, through a promotion that ended Tuesday fans could purchase up to six tickets for any price they could afford.
“We have been so busy today,” said box office employee Kelsie Woodward. “We've had a lot of families come in and a lot of people who have families in from out of town.
“A lot of them have never seen a Mavericks game, and now, because of our ‘Pay What You Can’ promotion, they will see their first game, and it's at a price they can afford – which is really great during the holiday season.”
The promotion was the idea of Mavericks president Brent Thiessen, who said it grew from a preseason brainstorming session with the staff.
“During the holidays, with a game the day before Thanksgiving, we thought it would be great to offer our fans a special game like this,” Thiessen said. “And the response has been amazing.”
An Examiner Facebook post about the game received more than 3,000 hits.
“We've had a great response the past few weeks, but the past two days we have really sold a lot of tickets to the game,” Woodward said.
Because there will be so many new fans in attendance, the game has taken on a new meaning for coach Scott Hillman and his team.
“I think the game is about hard work,” Hillman said. “We take a lot for granted as people and as hockey players. Today we celebrate the hard-working families that are watching us for one of the first times.
“It is my hope that we will compete with everything we have to thank them for spending the evening with us.”
Team captain Sebastien Thinel agreed.
“Times are hard for a lot of people, and now, we are going to have a lot of new fans in the stands because of this event,” Thinel said. “We play hard every night, because we have such great fans and want to win all our home games, but we are going to have that extra incentive Wednesday because we want to play well for all the fans who might only get to watch us play one night.
“And we want to give them a good game, one they will remember.”
Defenseman Dave Pszenyczny said he and his wife Natalie have contacted the Community Services League about serving food to those in need during the holiday season.
“With the ‘Pay What You Can’ promotion, you really begin to think about those in need,” Pszenyczny said. “I've talked to people who have wanted to come watch us play, but they couldn't afford it because of situations in their families, and I understand.
“And I can promise everyone in attendance, you're going to be watching a team that is giving it everything they have, because we want to honor and thank you for making the Mavericks a part of your holiday experience. This game is for you!”