By Collin Gallant on April 20, 2017.
The Medicine Hat Tigers playoff run is over but two rounds of rowdy post-season action could put the Canalta Centre on more even financial footing in its second year of operation.
Growing pains and a lack of playoff dates last year were cited as reasons the city-owned facility fell short of operation budget.
This spring, six post-season dates, plus a boost in attendance as the regular season wound down, provided the first taste of playoff atmosphere at the new spectator rink in the Box Springs area.
“There are some pretty glum faces here today,” said facility manager Peter Jelinski on Tuesday.
“We’ve had great, great crowds. It’s just been a fantastic atmosphere for everyone. Our staff was really getting into the spirit. This town really loves the Tigers.”
The Tigers lost Game 7 of their second-round Western Hockey League series on Tuesday night to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The stated attendance according to the WHL was 5,556, though Jelinski estimated the figure was higher in the 6,100-seat facility.
“If it wasn’t a sell-out it was pretty close — a packed house,” he said.
An upper deck sellout would mark the second such crowd in the building’s two-year history, along with grand opening night in September 2015.
Jelinski said post-season attendance was up, though the team is responsible for releasing those numbers.
Along with more people, the per person spending on concessions was about 20 to 25 per cent higher each game, said Jelinski.
“The playoff run will definitely help us … it’s a plus to the bottom line,” he said, adding that attendance throughout the year is the biggest factor and it’s too early for a direct comparison.
Last September, the public services committee heard that in its first 12 months of operations, the facility recorded an operating loss of $440,000 — about $80,000 more than the expected shortfall.
At the time, elected officials speculated that additional playoff dates for the main tenant Tigers might have put the building on revenue targets.
Last year the Tigers played 36 home regular season games, then hosted a one-game tiebreaker to determine the final playoff berth, but lost.
This year, the Tigers hosted the Brandon Wheat Kings for two games to open the first-round, then played the Hurricanes four times on home ice.
This spring the facility will stage a major concert by country artist Dean Brodie, who was big draw as part of a double-bill show in 2016.
Jelinski said he’s also excited to host Bob Dylan’s performance this July, and more announcements of the autumn lineup of concerts and events could be made soon.
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