Ticket sales take off

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

The mood has gone from concern to budding optimism and if the trend continues, can jubilation be far behind?

With the 2007 IIHF World Women's Hockey Championship set to open in Winnipeg and Selkirk in less than a month, ticket sales have now surpassed 75,000 and spirits are high that Manitobans might still make this the best attended event of its kind.

"I would really love to see us blow the numbers out of the water," host organizing event chair Polly Craik said yesterday. "It would be great for Winnipeg and Manitoba to put us on the map and say 'Whoa, female hockey is moving up.' The awareness is out there, the profile is (rising). This is really the springboard to our next (Winter) Olympics (2010 in Vancouver) and it would just be so fantastic for Team Canada to be able to go and say that we just had the biggest World Championship ever."

The excitement is understandable, but it's a stark contrast from roughly one month ago when Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson was in town expressing concern about the roughly 38,000 tickets sold.

In just over a month since that visit, the number of tickets sold has nearly doubled and now the event is on pace to break the record of 94,000 set in Halifax during the 2004 event.

"Really, it's more the awareness as we're getting closer to the games," said Craik. "It's the whole vibrancy, banners are up and everything is pulling together. Once the team was picked, people could really feel like it was closer to home and realizing that it's the place to be."

The event runs from Apr. 3 to 10 at the MTS Centre and Selkirk Recreation Complex.

"We have our first team arriving on Mar. 21 and that's less than two weeks away," said Craik.

"Teams will be off to their pre-camps and that should get the rural communities excited as well and hopefully, they'll jump on board."

Starting this morning, a three-game mini-pack called the "Go for Gold" package, which includes a ticket to the gold medal game, the bronze medal game and a Team Canada game of the customer's choice, goes on sale to the general package.

Those packages start at $45 and are available through Ticketmaster.


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