Oilers got some 'farm' aid

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Operating the Edmonton Road Runners will help soften the financial hit on the bottom line for the Edmonton Investors Group now that the NHL season has been cancelled.

When the EIG projected costs in the event the entire 2004-05 NHL season was lost because of the lockout, governor and chairman Cal Nichols and his board were prepared for a $13-million (Cdn) tab to cover salaries for front-office staff, management, coaches and scouts, as well as other costs such as the lease at Rexall Place.

Projections now are the number will be closer to $10 million, and perhaps even less, because of a stronger Canadian dollar, "staff amalgamation" and a modest operating profit for the Road Runners.

"It appears it's going to bring it back to about $10 million," Nichols said. "We're happy as can be with that.

"A lot of our (Oilers') season-ticket holders stepped up and bought just to help out. There's been an average of 1,000-1,500 unused season tickets down there night after night."

The Road Runners have averaged 8,626 fans a game after 30 home dates, which is slightly ahead of projections.

With revenue from ticket sales, suites and concessions, the team is expected to turn a profit.

Cutting costs below $10 million will depend on attendance for the 10 home games that remain and revenue from any playoff dates.


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