Cup sales pleasant surprise

The Edmonton Eskimos brass is all smiles as ticket sales for this November's Grey Cup have been...

The Edmonton Eskimos brass is all smiles as ticket sales for this November's Grey Cup have been through the roof. (Jordan Verlage/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

EDMONTON - Expect the “Sold Out” sign to go up on the Grey Cup before the Edmonton Eskimos go to training camp.

In the entire 98-year history of the national classic there’s never been a story like this before. Eskimos full training camp begins this weekend!

Veterans take their medicals today with fan day and the first sessions of training camp Sunday at Clarke Park.

Another rush

And next week expect a replay of this remarkable week in Grey Cup history with the Host To Heroes Olympic hockey gold medal celebration event when ticket sales open to the general public at 10 a.m., Monday.

Fewer than 1,000 tickets remained for the Nov. 28 Grey Cup game after three and a half days of availability to the general public the Eskimos announced Friday afternoon.

“None of us expected this or even anything remotely close to this,” said Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur.

“To my knowledge the fastest a Grey Cup has ever been sold out before was by Calgary the same day they came up here to play the Labour Day rematch last year,” said LeLacheur.

“I received a call from Scott Ackles today saying, ‘Wow!’ ”

Ackles chaired the Calgary Grey Cup committee last year and has moved back to Vancouver and is chairing the 99th Grey Cup there next year.

LeLacheur was forced to call what was jokingly referred to as an emergency staff meeting on Friday to make sure the Eskimos didn’t sell too many tickets, that they had enough “holds” scattered through the stadium to accommodate people who still wanted to purchase season tickets and be able to attend the Grey Cup as well.

“We did not expect to have to think about that on June 4,” said LeLacheur.

“Traditionally we sell season tickets right up to the day of our first regular season game.We’ve got salesmen out pitching things.

“They’ve made proposals that they have to be able to deliver.”

Already the Eskimos have over 25,000 season ticket holders for this season, “more than we’ve had going back to the ’80s,” LeLacheur said of the five-in-a-row Grey Cup days of Warren Moon & Co.

“We’ve got camera blocks for TSN and RDS but we’re not even scheduled to have those meetings until July.”

As part of the host contract the league has seats blocked for sponsors and families of the participating teams.

With 35,000 of the tickets sold to season ticket holders when they went on sale at 2 p.m. local time June 1, the remaining tickets were

tracking at about 50%

out-of-town sales throughout the week.

But LeLacheur figures putting up the “Sold Out” sign isn’t going to stop people from coming for the party.

“This just puts more emphasis on the festival side,” he said. “I still think there will be a lot of people who come here to experience what we hope to be able to deliver on that side of things even if they don’t go to the game.”

Hot ticket

Meanwhile Doug Goss, LeLacheur’s co-chairman of the Grey Cup, can’t wait to find out what the number of ticket sales to Oilers, Eskimos and Oil Kings season ticket holders for the June 28 event to celebrate the Canadian Olympic hockey gold medal winners will total on Monday morning when the general public sales begin.

“They’re telling me they’re strong and steady,” he reported of the early indications he’d received.

“Hopefully we’ll be in a similar situation as the Grey Cup.”

With 39 of the 46 players on the gold-medal winning teams having already confirmed their attendance, Goss said people were busy tracking down Canada’s other

Olympic medal winners to also be part of the show he hopes will also fill Commonwealth Stadium at only $10 a ticket.

“What happened with the Grey Cup and what is hopefully happening again with this event is certainly

making a pretty positive statement about Edmonton,” said the current Eskimos

board chairman who

also chaired the Heritage Classic.

Wouldn’t hurt if the Oilers got out of last place and the Eskimos got something going again to be able to surf the wave the fans have going here right now.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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