The Donors Making Augustana Men’s Hockey and Midco Arena a Reality: Tom and Jean Slattery

By Keeley Meier '20 | January 25, 2024
Viking Club JJ's

In October 2021, Augustana University formally announced the addition of the Viking Men’s Hockey Program — which first took the ice in the fall of 2023. The public announcement came during a groundbreaking ceremony on AU’s campus for the program’s new Midco Arena. The hockey program, competing at the NCAA Division I level as part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), is the Vikings’ 23rd collegiate sport and first of its kind in South Dakota. The team is led by Garrett Raboin, who was named the inaugural head coach in April 2022.

Tom & Jean Slattery

Just a little more than two years after the groundbreaking, Augustana Hockey is set to play in Midco Arena for the first time on Jan. 26 and 27. As both fans and the team count down the days, the university recognizes the importance of the founding partners of Midco Arena — partners like JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars, owned by Tom and Jean Slattery. 

As a founding partner, JJ's will be hosting the Viking Club. The full bar is an additional perk for ticket holders in the club section of the arena. The bar will feature a full array of beer, wine and cocktails, as well as some familiar faces from JJ’s on 57th Street in Sioux Falls.


“We are taking people from JJ’s and putting them in the arena to make some of our classic cocktails,” Tom said. “My whole purpose is to make people feel comfortable in the spaces we occupy, so we're going to take the service level up a notch when it comes to in-game experiences.”


Midco Arena will also have three beer carts — managed by JJ’s — located on the main concourse for anyone 21+ with a general admission ticket. JJ’s will sell pre-packaged beverages, including beer, ready-to-drink cocktails and seltzers.


“What I'm most excited about is that I've been given an opportunity to be part of something new, part of something revolutionary in our community and our state,” Tom said. “The idea is to provide an entertainment value for casual fans, improve the of-age student experience with some of these on-campus activities and provide our level of service to continue to evolve our role in the community.”


Tom and Jean’s role in the community extends back to 1998 when Tom was asked by Tom Howes — owner of the chain of The Gas Stop fuel stations and convenience stores — to open a high-end wine and spirits store on the south side of Sioux Falls. In 2011, through considerable growth and expansion, the Slatterys purchased JJ’s from the Howes family. JJ’s now features its flagship retail store in Sioux Falls, complete with a bar and restaurant, as well as The Boozy Bakery, which opened in 2018 and is managed by Jean.


In the late 90s, Jean opened a catering business called Classic Chef, specializing in small-event catering and gourmet retail. Jean eventually stepped away from the business and cooking to focus on other interests and raise their two children, Aaron and Jace. When the Slatterys began to discuss expanding operations at JJ’s, The Boozy Bakery was born.


“I have always had a passion for baking and cooking,” Jean said. “When I was in grade school, my mom taught me the basics and I’ve been expanding on it ever since. Adding this element to the services we offer was a dream come true. It gave us the ability to engage customers on a whole different level with classic desserts, catering and in-house dining.”

Tom Slattery — Brew & Gold

In 2018, the Slatterys also opened JJ’s Axes & Ales — an ax-throwing lounge — and moved to its current location in 2020, which is in the same retail center as JJ’s flagship store.

 For the Slatterys and their partnership with Augustana, which has spanned decades, JJ’s Axes & Ales has been a great tool in providing team engagement opportunities for AU Athletics.


“We've had a number of Augustana athletic programs come over to JJ’s Axes for team building, throwing axes and just having some fun as a unit outside of their sport,” said Tom.


The Slattery’s connections to Augustana stretch back to Tom’s days as manager of JJ’s, before they became owners in 2011. The couple got to know some AU student-athletes who worked for JJ’s, and Tom spent 13 years as a sideline photographer for the Augustana Football Program. Jean would host team dinners and teach yoga to the players.


In the midst of yoga and sideline photography, though, Tom knew that their Augustana involvement could someday be so much more.


“I had a conversation with somebody back then, and I said, ‘Someday, we're going to sell beer in the stadium (Kirkeby-Over),’” Tom said. “In 2019, we were approached by the athletics department and (Augustana) President (Stephanie) Herseth Sandlin’s office to see if we were interested in doing a trial run for a game with alcohol sales.”


On Oct. 12, 2019, during the Viking Days football game, JJ’s hosted Augustana’s first on-campus beer garden.


“It was snowing, it was cold, but it was very well received, and people were really excited about it,” Tom remembered.


Since then, JJ’s has been the host of beer gardens at every Augustana Football home game and, in the past year, expanded into the Elmen Center for various athletics events. Tom also coordinates watch parties at JJ’s for Augustana Hockey away games.


“The watch parties are another engagement tool for people to enjoy Augustana Hockey and learn more about it prior to getting established at Midco Arena, where we truly want everybody to be,” Tom said.


Tom and Jean said they don’t have any connections to hockey but are quickly becoming avid fans. 


“My first introduction to hockey was through our son, Aaron,” said Jean. “He started following the St. Louis Blues in middle school and quickly became the reference point for Tom and me on all things Blues Hockey and beyond. We look forward to the same kind of ‘fan status’ as we cheer on the Augustana Vikings.”


“Augustana has become my second home when it comes to whom I identify with as a school,” Tom said. “I’m an alum of USD (University of South Dakota), but the one thing we’re trying to engage people in is that it doesn't matter if you're red, it doesn't matter if you're royal blue — everybody can be navy when it comes to Division I hockey.”

For their home-opening weekend at Midco Arena, the Vikings take on Ferris State University. Tickets can be purchased at For updates on JJ’s watch parties and beer gardens, visit Augustana’s Facebook events page.

Learn more about other Viking Men's Hockey and Midco Arena donors:

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