Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the 2021-22 Division nominees for the WHL Business Award, awarded annually to the WHL Club that best exemplifies giving back to the community and producing an electrifying game-day experience for fans.
All individual WHL Division Award winners will be eligible for the overall WHL Awards, to be announced June 1, 2022.
WHL Business Award Nominees
B.C. Division – Kamloops Blazers
Central Division – Lethbridge Hurricanes
East Division – Prince Albert Raiders
U.S. Division – Everett Silvertips
WHL Business Award Nominee Descriptions
Kamloops Blazers: Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Kamloops Blazers continued to maintain and build their financial performance this season. Limited by capacity restrictions of 50 per cent for 14 home games, the Blazers managed to sell out each of those games while sponsorship sales have steadily increase.
Through the Community Commitment Program, the Blazers gave back to Kamloops by bringing nearly 10,000 Blazers fans to various games throughout the season. Groups supported through the Community Commitment Program include Veterans, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, minor hockey teams, minor soccer teams, and more.
A highlight of the season for the Kamloops Blazers was the successful Indigenous Night in partnership with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. A local Indigenous artist designed the event logo, which incorporated a meaningful story pertaining to the heritage of the local Indigenous group, and was emblazoned upon special edition Kamloops Blazers jerseys. The game-worn jerseys were auctioned off and raised over $15,000 in support of a charity of choice of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
The 2021-22 season has seen the Blazers enhance their WHL Live production, including new digital marketing efforts to showcase sponsors and partners through WHL Live. The Blazers have also enjoyed great success with new loge seating options at the Sandman Centre, re-engaging the Kamloops business community in a new and exciting way.
Lethbridge Hurricanes: Through the challenges of COVID-19, the Lethbridge Hurricanes actively hit maximum capacity during periods of restriction and maximized revenue by releasing seats within scanned ticket count numbers.
New eight-game mini-packs have helped to drive ticket sales coming out of COVID-19, and group sales are on the rise thanks to the reignition of relationships with groups like Copperwood, Lethbridge Minor Hockey, and various school groups. A strong relationship with the Lethbridge Community College Students’ Association has helped the Hurricanes to generate further ticket sales.
At the heart of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in-game experience is the Megatron Digital Video Board. Thanks to the video board being easy to disassemble, it is now being utilized for other events and rentals throughout the city and province, generating additional revenue for the Hurricanes. Not only does the Megatron Digital Video Board have an impact on a game night, it continues to work wonders for the Hurricanes during the off-season.
Recently, the Hurricanes developed a private-label wine and a private-label coffee, both of which generates funds for the Lethbridge Hurricanes Education Fund.
The Hurricanes have donated in excess of $115,000 back into the surrounding community in Southern Alberta, including $60,000 for the Lethbridge Food Bank and over $16,000 for the Canadian Tire JumpStart program.
The Hurricanes digital product, including WHL Live, has become a leader in the WHL, featuring an outrageous comedy talk show called “Svenson Sit Downs.”
Prince Albert Raiders: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raiders switched ticketing systems, implementing Paciolan to allow fans to purchase season tickets, store tickets, and manage their ticketing account online for the first time in Raiders history. The upgraded platform was vital in the renewal of 90 per cent of the Raiders season ticket base from 2019-20.
Enhancements to the Raiders in-house and WHL Live streaming production have created a more enjoyable viewing experience WHL fans, with additional camera angles and production equipment helping to deliver the second best home viewing audience in the entire Canadian Hockey League.
Utilizing the CHL App, the Raiders worked to recreate the in-game experience. The addition of Fannex aided in the launch of seven interactive games that have been used throughout the 2021-22 WHL season, giving fans and patrons the ability to play along during stoppages in play. The implementation of Fannex has contributed to an eight per cent increase in corporate partnership this season. Further enhancing the CHL App experience for Raiders fans, the Club worked with the Art Hauser Centre’s concession partner to add online food and beverage ordering, online 50/50 ticket sales, access to the Raiders Team Store, and more.
The Club launched a number of community and promotional programs during 2021-22, including fan personalized game pucks as part of the Raiders 50th Anniversary Season. A partnership with Prince Albert Pride helped to generate a $1,000 for the group through the sales of Raiders Pride t-shirts. A new merchandise partnership with the First Nations-owned Smudge the Blades helped to generate contributions towards KidSport in Prince Albert, while 50/50 sales contributed nearly $30,000 to the family of the late Matt Swaby and an additional $4,000 to the Adam Herold Legacy Foundation.
Everett Silvertips: The Everett Silvertips enjoyed a season ticket renewal rate of 90 per cent from 2019-20, with a focus on building and expanding the ticket holder base coming out of COVID-19. Relaxed exchange policies, holds through mandates, and adjusted payment plans, the Silvertips were able to success provide a better customer service and fan experience on the ticketing front through challenging times.
With an average attendance of 5,341 fans per game at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, the Silvertips boast the highest average attendance in the Western Hockey League this season.
A number of new promotional and ticketing initiatives were developed heading in 2021-22, in an effort to welcome fans back to the arena, including a Paper Airplane Toss with over $10,000 in prizing sponsored by local small businesses; the embracing of organic fan entertainment including Taco Hat Trick awareness, and sing-a-longs; Undie Sunday, which collected over 3,500 units of undergarments for those in need; the Great Small Dog Race Series, which served as a pet waste awareness campaign for Everett Public Works; Union Solidarity Night; and Fill the House for Housing Hope featuring a donation to the local affordable housing non-profit for every Silvertips home win.
The ReplyBuy text program was implemented to help engage season ticket holders, send alerts for postponed games, special benefits, thank yous, and more. The text program now features 15,000 active members with an 85 per cent response rate.
The Silvertips were a participant in the battle of the Sound – a road game for the Silvertips against the Seattle Thunderbirds at Climate Pledge Arena – home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. Nearly 40 per cent of the fans in attendance on February 26, 2022 came from Everett.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.