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Edmonton Eskimos' $99 season-seat special sells out

Anyone still looking to trade in a $100 bill for Edmonton Eskimos season seats wouldn’t find themselves a dollar short, but they are a day late.

The CFL club announced Friday the $99 season seat sale for the upcoming year has sold out.

Initially launched on Feb. 20, the promotion was intended to last 20 days. But all the seats zoned for the sale in Section Z2, Rows 60 and above, were gone with four days to spare.

“Our inventory of $99 season seats was snapped up fast,” the club posted on its Twitter feed. “If you missed out, don’t worry. We are looking at other options.”

Last season, Commonwealth Stadium averaged 29,341 people in the stands for each of the nine Eskimos regular-season home games on the way to an 8-10 record, crossing over to the East Division playoff bracket.

While that’s up from 28,024 the previous season, the Eskimos, along with teams across the CFL, are looking to make inroads in non-traditional markets.

Currently, that extends to both cultural — with the league pushing its CFL 2.0 global initiative — and economic segments of the population.

“We initially came out of the gate with the thought we would give it a 20-day window,” Eskimos president Chris Presson said in a sit-down interview with Postmedia from his office overlooking the Brick Field just days before the sellout. “We’ve done well enough that we may have to go to Plan B on, do we extend it? What strategically can we prong off of that, if anything? And what that looks like longer-term?

“We’re really listening to what our fans are telling us. Certainly, we can’t do everything that every fan wants us to do, however, with the abundance of inventory we have, it certainly made sense to me and to our leadership team.”

The last time Commonwealth sold out for a regular-season game was on Sept. 26, 2009, with 62,517 in the stands to see the Saskatchewan Roughriders — typically the biggest draw of all eight of the league’s other teams — earn a 23-20 win. That year, the Eskimos averaged 37,164 per home game.

In the decade to follow, that number dramatically declined to fall below the 30,000 threshold following an uptick in a 2017 season that saw average attendance hit 32,435.

While the Eskimos are hardly alone in their attendance trend, or the rest of the CFL and pro leagues across the continent, for that matter, it’s hard to hide with the biggest stadium in the league.

Especially with 55,819 seats, compared to the 25,000-35,000 in the new stadiums that have been built.

“We understand the necessity to develop new fans, that’s part of the strategy,” Presson said. “And we also understand economically where our province currently sits.”

Hence, the adjustment to offer season seats at $99 plus fees and taxes, which included the option of a $10.15 down payment, followed by a $9 bi-weekly payment plan.

“It’s done what we had hoped it would do, which is, A: Pique some interest,” Presson said. “B: Allow people who haven’t been coming with regularity, to be a part of something once again. And, C: Gives us a chance to develop that new fan.”

At the same time, regular season-seat renewals are eight per cent up from where they were at this time a season ago, Presson said.

“Certainly, we still have some renewals out there,” Presson said. “But to date, we’re — knock on wood — in a good position. But we still have a ways to go.”

The season-seat special coincided with a visit from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie last week, as part of his annual Randy’s Road Trip to engage with fans and media across the league.

Fortunately, the Eskimos seat sale has enjoyed a much better turnout than Ambrosie’s press conference, which was held on the same day as the NHL trade deadline.

“I think if it’s about giving people a chance to come and get that first experience, then I’m supportive of it,” Ambrosie said. “I think any time you can get that kid, that young fan who goes into the stadium and becomes a fan of our game, seven, eight, nine, 10 years old, and they leave the stadium tugging on mom or dad or uncle and aunt’s shirt sleeve saying, ‘When are we coming back?’ I think if it’s about that, then I’m a big supporter.

“So many of us who fell in love with this game as kids, went to our first game — for me, it was a Bombers game. Here, for many, it was an Eskimos game — and they talk about that leaving the stadium and they’ve been fans 10, 20, 30, 40 years later. If it’s about that, then I’m a big supporter.

“It’s isolated around that idea of a first fan experience.”

E-mail: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Eskimos average attendance over the past decade:

2019: 29,341

2018: 28,024

2017: 32,435

2016: 30,998

2015: 31.517

2014: 33,485

2013: 32,096

2012: 34,318

2011: 34,625

2010: 35,205

2009: 37,164

– Source: Wikipedia

Source: torontosun.com




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