Walk into an arena during a Hockey Canada national or international event, and you shouldn’t have any trouble locating the FanZone – it’s the loud, brightly-dressed, energetic section charged with being the voice and heart of the fan experience.
Introduced at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, B.C., the FanZone is a joint effort between Hockey Canada and the tournament’s host committee. The host committee works to find the fans, and Hockey Canada outfits them – cowboy hats, coveralls and face paint to look good, cowbells and horns to sound good.
Of course, fans are welcome to dress up on their own and bring their own noise makers; once they’re in their seats, the rules of the FanZone are pretty simple: be loud, but don’t be abusive or offensive.
So how can Joe Fan join the FanZone?
Hockey Canada and the host committee use a wide-ranging recruitment program that includes everything from the official event website to Facebook, Twitter, local newspapers and radio and television stations.
How about a radio contest where fans have to call in with their cheer? Maybe a daily secret word in the local newspaper that creates a phrase; fans then enter the phrase on the event's Facebook page to be entered. Or something as simple as liking the Facebook page, or following the event on Twitter; every fan as of a specified date is entered to win.
One of the most popular contests held prior to the World Junior A Challenge had fans posting photos of themselves in their best and brightest Team Canada outfits on the WJAC Facebook page in order to win FanZone tickets.
“We want to get hockey fans of every age out to the events and taking part in what we’ve got going on,” says Dean McIntosh, Hockey Canada’s director of marketing services and events. “We think that by going to various local groups we can accomplish just that, and give not only the players on the ice, but the other fans in the arena an experience they’ll never forget.”
Groups that range from high school and university students to the local junior team and minor hockey association could be involved – maybe they’re not the ones in the FanZone when the puck drops, but they can help spread the word to all corners of the community.
It’s one of the basic goals for any host committee – to give the players the best experience they can by filling the seats with the loudest and most passionate hockey fans they can find. And with the FanZone, it should have that covered.