Swarm has its sights set on college students

The Minnesota Swarm will recognize University of Minnesota students this weekend by offering complimentary tickets to students for Saturday nightâÄôs game with the Portland Lumberjax . âÄúWe are hosting a U of M night to recognize the University and the impact the college students have by being in attendance,âÄù Cassidy Bennett , the campus coordinator for the Swarm, said. âÄúWe want students to have an exclusive feeling when they attend our games. In order to do that, we have created a specific section in the lower bowl of the Xcel Center for them.âÄù This weekendâÄôs promotion is the latest in a year-long campaign by Swarm owner and President John Arlotta to bring the college crowd to the Xcel Energy Center. Arlotta, who bought the team last July, said he saw a lucrative audience when he arrived in Minnesota to find that Minneapolis/St. Paul is the second-largest college population in the country behind the Boston, Mass., area. âÄúOur game is an exciting game that college kids love once they find out about it,âÄù Arlotta said. âÄúThe problem is that a lot of them havenâÄôt found out about it.âÄù To solve that problem, Arlotta began promoting the Swarm around college campuses in the Twin Cities and offering vouchers that students can redeem for free tickets to Minnesota home games all season âÄî including the final two home games of the year. The Swarm make the deal even sweeter by offering free transportation on Metro Transit lines, live college bands and discounts on food, beverages and merchandise at the arena. But more importantly, Arlotta said it gives college students an exciting way to spend a Saturday night. âÄúThis is a weekend event, when college kids want to go out and do something,âÄù Arlotta said. âÄúWe think our product speaks for itself. We think that once somebody gets here, thereâÄôs so much excitement, thereâÄôs so much up and down. The pace is exciting, and weâÄôve got a little of everything.âÄù SaturdayâÄôs matchup with the Lumberjax also has significant postseason implications for Minnesota. Despite being 6-8 this year, the Swarm, who snapped a three-game skid last weekend with a 9-7 win against the Edmonton Rush at home, are in the middle of a tight race for the playoffs âÄî tied with San Jose and Colorado for third in the West Division and trailing second place Portland by 1.5 games. With an impressive 10-3 record, Calgary is the only West Division team that has clinched a playoff spot so far, and even last-place Edmonton is only one game back from joining the traffic jam for third place. Although it hasnâÄôt been the best year on the field for the Swarm, Andy Arlotta, JohnâÄôs son who also serves as vice president and co-owner , said the organization is developing in other ways this year. âÄúItâÄôs been good to see growth every game âĦ the fan base grow,âÄù Andy Arlotta said. âÄúItâÄôs been good to reach out to the community, which weâÄôve been doing a lot more than they had previously done.âÄù SaturdayâÄôs game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Students must register for complimentary tickets at the following website: http://www.mnswarm.com/tickets/campus.asp