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NHL OILERS CLOSE IN ON TICKET GOAL AS CAMPAIGN GETS TOUGH
Published May 29, 1996
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).