The Prince Albert Raiders met with the local media on Tuesday morning and there were no dire warnings or desperate pleadings, but one message was crystal clear - they need to sell more season tickets.
Last year they fell about 60 tickets short of their season ticket goal. And this year, with the season just around the corner, they are about 200 behind their goal.
That number doesn’t sound daunting, but if you had a chance to see how tight the budget of a junior hockey team can be, you’d know every single dollar they can secure makes a difference.
And, the team is starting the season facing some unfortunate uncertainty. First with rumours that superstar young player Leon Draisaitl might be looking to play in Europe, and with the prospect of both of the team’s young superstars, Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey making NHL rosters and not returning to Prince Albert for the season.
If either or both are back, it makes Cory Clouston’s job as head coach easier, but if they’re not back, it is hardly the end of the world. GM Bruno Campese made it clear he expects the Raiders to be a quality, competitive team this season, one that will definitely be worth the price of admission.
And, their marketing this season is based on the “Come for the Game, Stay for the Party!” theme, which is more true than ever. The organization has completely revamped it’s game night features, and the schedule is family friendly to the max. Twenty-five of the 36 Raiders home games this season are on a Friday or Saturday night, so families don’t have to worry about late nights on a school night.
Not everyone is a hockey fan, and fair enough, there are other options in this city to suit different peoples’ tastes. But, without a doubt, the Raiders are the biggest game in town. And it is a privilege for a community to have a Western Hockey League team to call their own. Imagining Prince Albert without the Raiders isn’t a lot of fun.
This is a community-owned team, a rarity in the WHL and in sports these days. People in this community need to take ownership of this team. These young athletes become a part of this community, they get involved with schools and charitable events. They give us all something to root for through the long cold winter. These players, this organization needs Prince Albert’s support.
If you have been meaning to get your season tickets but just haven’t gotten around to it, now’s the time. If you’ve been considering not renewing this season, reconsider. If your family’s budget is an issue, consider teaming up with another family and sharing season tickets.
A team like the Raiders -- community-owned, in one of the smallest, oldest rinks in the league, absolutely depends on ticket sales and the support of the community it calls home.
It’s time for the community to step up and push that season ticket goal to, and beyond, the target they set, and help this organization start the season on the right foot.