As the Borderland Thunder prepare to hit the ice in a pre-season tournament this weekend in Thunder Bay against other Superior International Junior Hoc-key League squads, team officials and ticket sellers are seeing interest starting to build.
But whether that interest will translate into dollar signs for the Couchiching First Nation-owned team is still unknown.
Season tickets have been on sale at Mary’s Little Lambs and Mandy’s, the Safeway Gas Bar, and Skates and Blades. Cost for the 24-game schedule is $150 for adults and $105 for students, seniors, and children.
“The response has been very positive,” said Thunder general manager Brent Tookenay. “A lot of people have been asking about the team.”
As of yesterday, Mary’s Little Lambs had sold 20 season tickets and have received interest from another dozen or so.
“People are curious about the team,” said Brent Calder, co-owner of Mary’s Little Lambs. “We just got some of their clothing line on sale so we’ll see how it goes.”
Skates and Blades, which has been supplying the team with jerseys and was instrumental in developing its logo, has more than 25 names on their “interested” list.
“The general interest here has been great, just fabulous,” said Skates and Blades owner Gord McQuarrie, who proudly claims to have officially purchased the first Thunder season ticket.
“The promotions for this thing are starting.”
Late last week, two more locations—the CC Complex and Red Dog Inn—have begun to sell season tickets. But it’s tough to gauge sales as they’ve just received their printed tickets.
Single game tickets are not on sale yet but their availability will be announced as the Oct. 12 home-opener draws closer. Various merchandise also has been made available.
Tookenay said there is no quotas to sell out all 900 seats at the arena.
“There’s not a set number [of season tickets] we have to sell at all. We’re just hoping response will continue to be great,” he said, adding a Thunder information phone line will be set up within the month.
Thunder assistant coach Sean Taggart said he understands sales won’t pick up until people in town see what kind of hockey the team will be offering.
“Once people see the product first-hand, it’ll spark their interest even more,” he said.
The other six SIJHL teams—the Feathermen Hawks (Thunder Bay), Thunder Bay Wolves, Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs, Iron Range Yellow Jackets (Coleraine, Mn.), Northwest Wisconsin Knights (Spooner, Wis.), and Dryden Ice Dogs—also will compete in this weekend’s tournament.
The Thunder will play two games each on Friday and Saturday, with the top two teams squaring off Sunday in a one-game final.