The owners of the Regina Pats didn't expect to make money by hosting the 100th Memorial Cup at the Brandt Centre this week, but said they wanted to bring the event to the community anyway.
Shaun Semple, chairman of the event and owner of the Brandt Group, which owns 40 per cent of the Pats organization, said the Pats investors decided to subsidize the event and expect to lose about $2 million collectively.
"It didn't matter if we sold every single seat to the concert and every single seat to the memorial cup, the event would have not made money no matter what," Semple said. "We just hope at the end of the day that everybody has fun, the Pats win and we celebrate the 100th Memorial Cup and the 100th anniversary of the Pats."
Semple said event profit was limited from the beginning due to capacity. While the Brandt Centre only seats 6,484, the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, which will hold the Memorial Cup in 2019, holds over 11,000 people.
The group also had to pay a fee of $3.65 million to the CHL in order to host the event.
"We went into this thing knowing that we'd have to invest that money in order to bring the event here. We thought it was important for Regina and the community to have it here," Semple said.
"So many events pass over Regina, from concerts and so on. We need to show the world that we can host it and to do that, we need people to support the events. That's what we're trying to do here."
Semple said they based ticket prices off of past Memorial Cups in Red Deer, Alta., and Windsor, Ont. Some fans have complained that they start at $75.
The Memorial Cup events and games have not sold out. The opening night Eagles concert was over 3,700 tickets short of a sell out, with 27,000 tickets sold. On Friday night, as the Pats faced off against the Hamilton Bulldogs, 806 tickets were unsold. On Saturday, with the Swift Current Broncos taking on the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, only 384 tickets were left.
Despite relatively high ticket sales, those in attendance have pointed out on social media that there have been plenty of empty seats at the rink. Semple said that was expected over May long weekend in Saskatchewan.
"Ticket sales are trending up. We expect that after the start of this coming week and after the long weekend is gone, you'll see the attendance per game really start to be full every night," he said.
City predicts $15M economic boost
When the Saskatoon Blades hosted the Memorial Cup in 2013, the organization received a $3.5-million loan guarantee from the province. Taxpayers in Saskatchewan had to pay $700,000 to cover the organization's loss.
No such guarantee was put in place for the Pats so taxpayers won't be on the hook for any losses. The City of Regina invested about $1 million in Brandt Centre upgrades but not in the event itself. Tourism Saskatchewan did, however, put $350,000 into the event.
Mayor Michael Fougere said the city projects the Memorial Cup to bring in $15 million in economic activity thanks to an estimated 4,000 game attendees from all over the country.
With the city hosting the event for the first time since 2002, Fougere said hotels, restaurants and other local businesses will benefit.
He said the event also showcases the city and local facilities to people from out of province.
But overall, he said he's most excited for the two Saskatchewan teams to face off on Wednesday. He has high hopes that the host team will come out on top.
"I'm biased, I want to see them win the whole thing," Fougere said. "But I also want to see them play Swift Current. It will be a bit of a friendly grudge match to see how that game goes.
"We have four really good teams that have proven that they're very strong and we'll see some of the best hockey in Canada."