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MEASURING THE VIABILITY OF EDMONTON'S SPORTS TEAMS
Published February 3, 1995
"Edmonton's two professional sports franchises are in deep trouble," according to Scott Feschuk in this morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The Oilers recorded their smallest home-attendance figure yet on Wednesday night, and the CFL Eskimos are struggling to sell 7,000 new season-tickets. Oilers GM Glen Sather: "Edmonton is a great hockey town. The sport is huge at the grassroots level. People just don't seem to want to see us play anymore. It's frustrating." The Oilers are not playing well, but Sather points out that team Owner Peter Pocklington spent millions last year to "spruce up the aging Coliseum." Byran Hall, a veteran Edmonton sportscaster said the lousy play of the team is one reason, but other factors include the increase in money spent on the video-lottery in Alberta, a backlash to the hockey work stoppage and higher Oilers' ticket prices. The Eskimos' plight is "an even greater mystery as the team had a winning season and consistently drew 50,000 in the early years, but only 15,000 season tickets were sold in '94 (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/3). Sather expressed frustration on the poor attendance: "I could understand if we were charging $40 a ticket, but we're not. It just seems like people in the States have accepted what happened (during the lockout), but people here love to complain. You can have a hell of a junior club with 10,000 fans, or an IHL team, but not the NHL. If this is all we're going to get, it's not a major league city" (Cam Cole, EDMONTON JOURNAL, 2/3).