Edmonton Eskimos: Cheaper tickets, youth free as CFL attendance dips
It’s about to get a lot cheaper to go to Edmonton Eskimos games.
The Canadian Football League club announced new pricing Monday that will allow fans to sit in general admission seats for $22, with tax and service fees included, if they purchase advance tickets. Same-day general admission tickets will cost only $25 after tax — prices the team says are the cheapest they’ve offered in almost a decade. Seating will be in the north end zone under the scoreboard, a section previously covered by sponsor tarps.
In addition, the team also announced free admission for those ages 17 and under for all games through the Sept. 7 Labour Day rematch against the Calgary Stampeders.
The deal comes amid declining attendance not just for the Eskimos but across the CFL. The team drew reported crowds of 25,263 and 24,016 to Commonwealth Stadium in their first two home games of the season — a severe drop from last year’s average attendance of 31,107. The stadium, opened in 1978, seats 55,819 people, but some sections are tarped off for Eskimos games.
Mandy Johnston, vice-president finance and business administration the Eskimos, said there are a few possible reasons for the dip in attendance, including a rainy June. But she said the team is careful not to sit back and believe the trend will just correct itself.
“The one thing we could control was the price,” Johnston said. “We heard loud and clear that affordability was a factor.”
The Eskimos have often led the league in attendance over their history. For Johnston, a big part of maintaining attendance is by building a new generation of fans. That’s why the team has introduced free entry for youth, as well as free passes for kids under 13 to enter the field after games and get autographs from players.
However, not all are happy about the promotion, with some season-ticket holders asking why they pay top dollar for their seats while the team introduces deals like this.
“As a season ticket holder, seeing these deals, I think, ‘We don’t get a break.’ Our prices still go up,” said Mark Kay, who has been an Eskimos season ticket holder since 2006.
Kay says that he pays close to $4,000 a year for season tickets for him and his family, including his kids, for whom he has to pay adult prices. He thinks deals like this devalue his own tickets and says he’d like to see the team do something for season-ticket holders to show their appreciation.
“A hat, a concession coupon, anything. Something that won’t destroy the bottom line,” Kay said.
“It’s one of those things where you say, when is enough enough?”
Johnston says she wants fans to know that the club appreciates their loyalty and aims to make the season-ticket experience special.
“We really want to protect the value that they receive,” Johnston said. “This is a brand-new section of seating. It doesn’t take anything away from the season-ticket holders.”
The next Eskimos home game is July 25 against the Toronto Argonauts. That game will also feature special $5.25 pricing on beer as well as $2.25 hot dogs.