Vees shooting for more fans

Chances are good that more fans will be pushing their way through the turnstiles at Penticton Vees games.

Chances are good that more fans will be pushing their way through the turnstiles at Penticton Vees games.

Will Russell, who is in charge of getting butts in the seats for Vees games, is confident the 2011/12 BCHL schedule will be favourable for them to draw larger crowds.

When it comes to promotions, Russell has ideas that will be revealed as the season gets closer. One thing they will do is have fans skate with the Vees after their Sunday afternoon games. Russell said they want to make that a family affair.

“This is something that we want to bring back,” said Russell, Vees director of ticket sales. “Fans can interact with the players a bit.”

Also, with only six weekday games, the Vees feel that should help getting more families out. Of the six weekday games, two are against Vernon and three with Trail. Both teams attract strong crowds.

“We couldn’t be happier to have that and to have 24 prime dates,” said Russell. “It’s really going to help us.”

Another thing he hopes will help them is having five Saturday games starting at 5 p.m. The Vees are doing this for two reasons, the first being to encourage people with young kids to come and secondly, to compete less with the Vancouver Canucks. Of the Vees’ 30 homes games last season, the Canucks played on 22 of those dates. During intermissions, several fans swarmed the flat screens to catch the Canucks in action.

“Our goal is to start at five and give people a chance to do both,” he said.

Russell likes the direction sales are going as they are 30 tickets behind last season. While the count for club seats (505 seats sold) and 200 (luxury suites) remain the same, the regular bowl is at 275.

“I see us exceeding that number pretty easily,” said Russell, who has various ticket figures on his laptop.

Russell, who worked with the Vancouver Canadians baseball team, now plans to knock on the door of businesses for their support. His goal is to have 400 season ticket holders bringing the total to 1,100. He feels the public has responded well to the lowered prices adding that in today’s economy, entertainment dollars only go so far. A positive Russell has seen the return of old season ticket holders.

Russell is also taking a page of what the Vancouver Giants do for season ticket holders with unused ducats. For games they can’t attend, season ticket holders can redeem them for a certain night.

With the Vees averaging 1,505 fans a night, Russell would love to see that jump to 1,700 and hit seven games with 2,000 or more fans.