Bring back the Shore

CeeBees ex­ec­u­tive says loss of Break­ers hurt­ing ticket sales at home games

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

Com­pared with other teams com­pet­ing in the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League, the Con­cep­tion Bay North CeeBee Stars are do­ing well when it comes to at­tract­ing spec­ta­tors for home games at S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace — just not as well as last sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to team ex­ec­u­tive Kenny Hunt, at­ten­dance num­bers have been down this sea­son, with an av­er­age of 600 hockey fans show­ing up for each game. Last sea­son, the team drew an av­er­age of ap­prox­i­mately 700 spec­ta­tors per game, ac­cord­ing to for­mer sta­dium man­ager Lorne Tucker, who now looks af­ter Jack Byrne Arena in Tor­bay.

Hunt says the down­turn can be at­trib­uted to the loss of the South­ern Shore Break­ers this sea­son. The two teams had an in­tense ri­valry in re­cent years, cul­mi­nat­ing in con­sec­u­tive seven-game play­off se­ries to de­ter­mine the league cham­pi­ons for 2009 and 2010.

“ They were our No. 1 ri­val for the last num­ber of years,” says Hunt. “Mount Pearl and Tor­bay give us some great op­po­nents, but it’s not the same ri­valry.”

The loss of the Break­ers this sea­son has meant more games be­tween the CeeBees and the three re­main­ing teams in the AESHL.

While the Mount Pearl Blades and CeeBee Stars have been neck-and-neck with each other all year, the same can­not be said for the CeeBees and the other two teams. The CeeBee Stars have outscored the Bell Is­land Blues and North­east Se­nior Ea­gles by mar­gins of 49-14 (six games) and 36-16 (seven games), re­spec­tively. Only one of those teams, the Se­nior Ea­gles, has de­feated the Stars in reg­u­lar sea­son play.

The ap­par­ent de­crease in the level of com­pe­ti­tion may have kept some fans away from

Kenny Hunt

the rink, but there is also an in­crease in the cost of ticket prices to con­sider. The price for adults in­creased from $ 8 to $ 10. Tick­ets cost $ 6 for chil­dren.

“ Ticket prices may have some­thing to do with the down­turn in at­ten­dance, but it’s pri­mar­ily the loss of the Break­ers,” says Hunt, adding the team’s bud­get­ted rev­enue for this sea­son fac­tored in a de­cline in at­ten­dance. When asked about the team’s fi­nances, Hunt would only say its bud­get was made with a run for the Herder in mind.

Over­all, fan sup­port for the CeeBees is still the envy of ev­ery other team in the league. Michelle Ride­out, a fi­nan­cial ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Mount Pearl Glacier, says the Blades have av­er­aged 390 fans per game, with num­bers jump­ing sub­stan­tially when­ever the CeeBee Stars are in town.

“ I won’t say we have home ice ad­van­tage,” says Hunt, “ but we have a large fan base that fol­lows us, es­pe­cially in Mount Pearl.”

The Se­nior Ea­gles have av­er­aged 500 fans each game, said Tucker, and Mon­signor Bartlett Me­mo­rial Arena man­ager Holly Neary says the Blues have av­er­aged 175 spec­ta­tors for home games.

“Our play­ers ap­pre­ci­ate our fan base, there’s no doubt about that,” says Hunt.

Mak­ing up for any loss in rev­enue from ad­mis­sion fees are sales from 50/50 tick­ets. Don Reg­u­lar, one of the 50/50 draw or­ga­niz­ers who can also be seen sell­ing tick­ets at each CeeBees home game, says sales are up by about 20 per cent over this time last year, with the av­er­age jack­pot size to­talling $1,000.

“ We feel this is an in­te­gral part of the sup­port for our team, and the fans have been very, very good.”

Help­ing those sales has been the ef­fort to get 50/ 50 tick­ets into 12 Con­cep­tion Bay North re­tail busi­nesses. This prac­tice got un­der­way lit­tle over a year ago.

“Our num­bers are im­proved be­cause we’ve had a full year now of hav­ing them in the stores, and that lit­tle bit of ex­tra rev­enue has im­proved our over­all sales,” says Reg­u­lar.

Along with the 50/50 tick­ets, the team is try­ing a new rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing ven­ture through a ticket draw on a trip for four to Detroit to watch Dan Cleary and his Red Wings team­mates play the Toronto Maple Leafs in March. The prize in­cludes air­fare, three night in a ho­tel, $500 in spend­ing money, four au­to­graphed jer­seys, and a chance to meet Cleary, the pride of River­head, Har­bour Grace. The win­ner will be drawn from 4,000 printed tick­ets on Feb. 12.

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