GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour was hoping to bring one of its 50 annual charity hockey games to Grand Falls-Windsor.
The group reached out to local organizations, as well as the town of Grand Falls-Windsor, to see if they wanted to take on this opportunity as a fundraiser.
The tour was left with a gap in its Newfoundland and Labrador schedule when one community backed out, leaving March 16 open.
“It’s a little bit late in the game to try and make it work,” said Brian Da Silva, sports coordinator, sales and events with Montreal Canadiens Alumni.
“From all the feedback that we got there wasn’t enough time or interest to get it going within a month. I don’t believe we will be able to do a game in Grand Falls-Windsor for this year.”
The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor initially declined the offer to host a charity hockey game because historically, these events have not gone over well in the town, said Deputy Mayor Mike Browne.
The last two occasions the town has had alumni hockey teams visit, the municipality lost money because of poor attendance.
The town was also not interested in paying the $20,000-price tag to host the event, plus hotel accommodations for the players.
“We did offer the organizer the building for free and offered them 100 per cent of the gate proceeds,” said Browne.
This offer came after the organization went back to the town a second time after being told Grand Falls-Windsor council was not interested.
The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour is a charity event whereby the organization paying them to come to town sets up a match with a local team, sets the ticket prices, sells the tickets and takes 100 per cent of the proceeds from the event.
Da Silva said typically tickets range in price from $15 to $25. With 973 seats in the Joe Byrne Arena and room for 400 standing, if tickets were sold at $25 a seat the organization hosting would stand to make a little over $34,000, before costs.
But as history has shown, these events are not ones to sell out.
Aside from the $20,000-price tag, the event was too short notice for the town, and it would have been a scramble to advertise it properly, said Browne.
The Newfoundland portion of the tour will bring alumni including Steve Shutt (1972-1985), Patrice Brisebois (1991-2009) and Stephane Richer (1984-2005) to Conception Bay South on March 15 and Fogo Island on March 17, towns that have already confirmed hosting the events.
The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour has reached out to other towns besides Grand Falls-Windsor to try to fill the gap in their schedule, including Bonavista –
home of Montreal Canadiens Alumni player Michael Ryder – St. Albans, Wesleyville, Gander and Corner Brook.
“It’s a little bit late in the game to try and make it work but we’re still working on it,” said De Silva.