The Premier Hockey Federation’s Metropolitan Riveters will play their home games inside American Dream, a megamall in New Jersey, beginning this season, the team announced Wednesday.
The Riveters have reached a three-year agreement to hold all practices and home games on American Dream’s NHL-sized rink, which can hold around 2,000 spectators. The rink is located near an indoor water park, a Ferris wheel and several corridors of retail stores.
“They have an enormous number of attractions,” Frank Supovitz, a fan experience consultant for the Riveters, told ESPN. “It’s an entertainment center geared toward every member of the family. And that’s what the experience of a Riveters game is going to fold so neatly into.”
American Dream is in East Rutherford, next to the arena where the New Jersey Devils played from 1982 to 2007. The Riveters have played their home games at the Devils’ practice rink in Newark since 2016.
Riveters president Digit Murphy said the relationship with American Dream started when the team held practices there last season, but she initially had some reservations about using the mall for home games.
“I’m like, ‘Our team is not playing in a mall,'” Murphy said. “But then I went down there and it was like being at Disney [World]. I was like, ‘We’re definitely playing here next season.’ The Devils’ training facility was great, but this was an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
Ticket plans are still being formed. On the first floor near the rink will be two rows of seats. The second floor will have “premium seating” at tables, with tickets that could include food, merchandise and player meet-and-greets as perks. The Riveters expect the third level of the mall to be open to pedestrians and onlookers.
“There’s the opportunity to spread excitement among people who didn’t know they were going to have a hockey experience when they woke up that morning,” Supovitz said.
The Riveters said they expect shoppers at American Dream will sample their games without buying a ticket. Along with the open third floor above the rink, there are obstructed view areas on other levels that are part of the public concourse.
“We’re not going to be kicking people out for watching the game, especially because our No. 1 priority is to expose the game [to new fans],” Murphy said.
There are also plans to integrate aspects of the mall into the game experience, and vice versa. Murphy said premium tickets could include discounts into other attractions at American Dream, which include an indoor theme park, water park and aquarium. The Riveters could promote shops inside the mall; Murphy suggested players could take part in on-ice fashion shows, for example. American Dream is expected to have Riveters merchandise available at the rink pro shop and at a kiosk inside the mall.
“American Dream is committed to growing the game and supporting female athletes, and I am beyond excited to call the complex home for many years to come,” Riveters captain Madison Packer said. “It will truly redefine the in-game experience for sporting events and expand our reach to fans across the tri-state area.”
The Riveters’ home games at American Dream will be announced later this month when PHF releases the 2022-23 regular-season schedule.