67's packing house in quest for record

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:56 AM ET

The folks who operate the Corel Centre and the Senators have received permission from the city to pack more patrons into the facility. Now they're able to fit 20,500 people into the arena on function nights, an extra 2,000 patrons than what had previously been permitted.

The timing for yesterday's announcement might seem a bit off -- what with the NHL lockout going on -- but there was a reason for it.

The Senators and the OHL's 67's are teaming up on yet another venture, this time in an attempt to set a junior hockey attendance record.

20,000 FANS

The 67's will host the Kingston Frontenacs at the Corel Centre on Dec. 30 and will try to get 20,000 fans into the rink, which would set a new mark.

The Detroit Jr. Red Wings (now the Plymouth Whalers) attracted 19,875 to Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 5, 1995 in a game against Windsor to establish the record.

The 67's and Sens hope to sell at least 20,000 tickets for the game, which organizers say would also make it the largest crowd to watch a live hockey game in Ottawa sports history.

Jeff Hunt, the 67's owner, said he began to flip through the league's record books when Cyril Leeder, Senators and Corel Centre COO, approached him with news of the increased capacity.

"We see this as an opportunity to do something very special," said Hunt. "It's a chance for Ottawa hockey fans to make history."

In a normal world, minus the NHL lockout, the Senators would have been playing a home game Dec. 30 against Carolina, and the crowd would have included many players, coaches and parents from the Bell Canada Cup minor hockey tournament.

Leeder saw a chance to give the tourney players to enjoy an event at the Corel Centre -- without the Senators -- by approaching the 67's.

He said the extra capacity will be located in the upper 300 level, where as many as 700 standing-room spots can be set up.

Other areas for added capacity include a party suite in the northwest upper level, and an average of five extra tickets for each of the building's 150 suites.

'ADD EXCITEMENT'

"It will allow more people to attend and to add more excitement to our games," said Leeder.

The Corel Centre received temporary permission to exceed the 18,500 capacity in 1998 for a Billy Graham crusade.

"It's going to be a memorable night," said Hunt, whose sales staff has sold 16,500 tickets for the game.

"It's always fun to be in a sold-out building, and if it's this building, then it will be an amazing experience.

"It's going to be a great night for junior hockey."

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos