Skating to a crawl

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Never mind Quebec City, Winnipeg has problems of its own.

The host committee for the 2007 IIHF World Women's Hockey Championship admitted yesterday that ticket sales have skated to a crawl.

Only 38,000 have been sold for the event to be held at both the MTS Centre and Selkirk in April and that's less than 40% of the 100,000 target. Not only that but the committee is still 20% short of where it needs to be with corporate sponsorship.

'WORK TO DO'

"We've got some work to do here, we're not hiding that," asserted Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, who is in town to meet with the steering committee. "We have to sell more tickets here and we're going to get that done. But we're going to have to work at that. We're going spend a lot of time. We're going to get more of our staff in to work with (the host committee).

"We're not panicking but we know we've got to make sure that we reach out and hopefully, everybody in Winnipeg's going to respond to that."

Nicholson was panicking a week ago when he threatened to move the Quebec City portion of the 2008 men's world championship to Winnipeg because that host committee appeared to be fumbling along. But Nicholson has more faith, it seems, in Winnipeg, thanks to its proven record in hosting international hockey events.

"Certainly we have some urgency with that number (38,000)," Nicholson said. "The awareness here in Winnipeg and throughout the province is very, very good. Now, we just have to really get out and work on our sponsorship packages and try to make sure that we get this information on tickets down to the grassroots of hockey in this province. I'm confident that we will be able to reach the numbers that we want.

"Every time that we go through these tournaments, there's a different journey to it all. I would be concerned if there wasn't the awareness out there. Now is the time to really engage the community."

A 14-game package is available at Ticketmaster for $209 and a special All-Canadian 6-Pack can be had for $79.99.

"We still need more help," said committee chair Polly Craik. "And we hope that Winnipeg rises to the occasion.

"Our community takes pride in hosting sporting events like no other, and we will need its full support in moving this forward. It will impact our ability to host future events."

In addition, the committee is seeking another 100 volunteers to reach the desired 700, Craik said.

The committee also announced a 9 Nations Female Pee Wee Hockey Festival to be held in Selkirk on Feb. 10 and a WWHC female skills camp at the MTS Centre, Feb. 18.


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