Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels forward Coy Pighin battles with a Southeast Tigers player Sunday in Game 1 of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League Division Final. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels forward Coy Pighin battles with a Southeast Tigers player Sunday in Game 1 of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League Division Final. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Alberta government approves 50/50 draws so fans can help support Junior Hockey Teams

Without fan support, some teams may no longer be viable, say officials

Red Deer Rebels fans will have a chance to support their team by buying tickets for a new 50/50 draw, announced Monday by the provincial government.

The Western Hockey League and the Alberta Junior Hockey League are getting the chance to fundraise through Junior Hockey Jackpot Draws. This will make teams more viable, giving fans a chance to show their support at a crucial time when no spectator tickets can be sold during the pandemic, stated Alberta’s minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women Leela Sharon Aheer.

“Protecting the lives and livelihoods of Albertans includes ensuring that junior hockey remains a social and economic driver in our province,” said Aheer.

She noted that provincial policy has been changed so the WHL and AJHL can now raise funds online to support their operations directly from fans in their communities.

Jackpots For Junior Hockey, a joint 50/50 draw launched by the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), will share proceeds with Alberta’s five WHL teams and 15 AJHL teams to help offset revenues lost because of the pandemic and the suspension of play.

The Jackpots For Junior Hockey 50/50 will run each weekend in March.

As part of the program, teams will be required to share a portion of proceeds received with local charities.

Merrick Sutter, senior vice-president of the Red Deer Rebels said, “We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the WHL, AJHL, and Alberta government in creating an online 50/50 for all clubs in March…

“Clearly, with no fans permitted in venues, every junior hockey team across Alberta has been challenged in generating revenue to offset costs,” Sutter added, noting junior teams “create huge economic and social benefits for their communities, so this is a way for fans to support those clubs and make sure these benefits remain.”


-Rebels prep for unique season

The minister said the new coronavirus has impacted every aspect of junior hockey — from cutting seasons short to disrupting arena ticket sales, which have historically paid for 90 per cent of team costs.

Junior hockey is an important contributor to Alberta’s economy, she added, as teams have poured $100 million into Alberta communities annually. As well as impacting teams and communities, the pandemic is also impacting players, who potentially face fewer opportunities for professional and international play.

Aheer said the provincial government “wants to give junior hockey a chance” by opening up the kind of 50/50 ticket sales draws that have proven a successful fundraiser for big-league teams like the Edmonton Oilers.

The Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission has approved the online ticket sales and 50/50 draws to raise proceeds for use of teams, including the Red Deer Rebels.

The season opens Friday without fans in the stands, so hockey officials are welcoming this fundraising opportunity to ensure that junior teams can remain in communities.

Ron Robison, commissioner for the WHL praised this new Jackpots for Junior Hockey initiative, saying 20 Junior Hockey teams are otherwise at risk of becoming not viable.

“The WHL is excited for the launch of the Jackpots for Junior Hockey 50/50. As largely fan-dependent leagues, the future of many of our junior hockey teams is in jeopardy in Alberta,” said Robison.

Ryan Bartoshyk, commissioner, Alberta Junior Hockey League, said, “The strength of the AJHL is its communities… Although the challenges over the past year were new and unfamiliar, the community support and passion for our teams has been unwavering and we are excited to capture that passion through this initiative.”

Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read