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NHL OILERS CLOSE IN ON TICKET GOAL AS CAMPAIGN GETS TOUGH

     The bid to reach 13,000 season ticket sales in Edmonton by
Friday to qualify for an NHL subsidy shows the Oilers at 11,600 -
- "and the team seems likely to make the cut," according to Neil
Campbell of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  The NHL has promised up to
$7M a year in aid to help meet the cost of doing business in a
small market; the Oilers had only 6,200 season ticket subscribers
six months ago.  But as the deadline approaches, "tensions are
mounting and businesses are being pitted against each other. ...
Those who do not wish to buy tickets feel they have been
intimidated, even threatened."  Campbell writes no previous
ticket campaign in Canada had "either the aggressiveness or
emotion" of the Oilers', organized by a group of volunteers
called Friends of the Oilers.  The volunteers took up the drive
to deflect focus away from controversial owner, Peter
Pocklington.  Friends has singled out several companies which
have not bought tickets, including Canadian Airlines.  Friends
Co-Chair Cal Nichols said several of his associates have switched
their business to Air Canada.  But Canadian Airlines spokesperson
Diana Ward said they have been talking to the Oilers about some
kind of sponsorship, and they "will continue to do so" (Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 5/29).
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Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, NHL

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