As the 2018-2019 Central Interior Hockey League season approaches, fans of the Prince Rupert Rampage have a few changes to look forward to as the team hopes to improve the live experience at home games.
Beer to be served at games
The first major change coming this season is that beer will now be available during games, and spectators will be allowed to drink while in the stands.
“It is a ‘whole licence’ which is like the Canucks games,” said Rampage vice-president Terena Stegavig in a text message. “You can sit with your kid and have a beer, not a bunch of drinks roped off in one section.
“We are committed to keeping this 100 per cent for the kids.”
Team president Travis McNeice said that the Rampage are the last team in the CIHL to serve beer during games, and the hope is that doing so will help boost attendance and add to the overall enjoyment at games.
“Everyone always knows that people would go into the parking lot for beers, and we’re trying to keep that in house as far as safety goes and convenience,” he said.
McNeice said there would also be an increased police presence and security at games, and added that continued beer service would be dependent on there being no intoxication or alcohol related incidents at games. He said if there are any such issues, the service will be immediately taken away.
“I just hope the people of Prince Rupert come out and enjoy a good night and cheer on their team,” he said.
No home broadcast games
for the season
The second major change will be that the Rampage will not have their home games broadcast by CityWest this year.
Chris Armstrong, communications manager for CityWest, said it was difficult for the company to bring their broadcast team from Kitimat to Prince Rupert for games due to the heavy snow storms experienced in the region last winter.
Armstrong said the logistics and safety challenges of bringing a crew to games were to high to continue this year.
“Internally we decided it may not be the best idea this year,” he said.
McNeice said the team was also concerned about the effect that live broadcasts were having on attendance at games. Last year, the Rampage saw all time lows in attendance even though they finished second overall in the CIHL.
“It’s a business that we’ve got to run and we’ve got to keep people coming through the gate to keep players on the ice,” he said.
Armstrong declined to comment on the impact of CityWest broadcasts have on game attendance.
Despite low turnout last year, McNeice said he was confident that more people will come to games as long as there is a good product on the ice.
“I think that Prince Rupert is the most giving community that there is,” he said. “Once they see that we’re trying to put our best team on the ice, they’re going to try and support us even more.”
Prince Rupert Rampage players met for their first session of dry land training at the Charles Hays Secondary School soccer field on Aug. 30.
The team is trying to get their legs conditioned for the 2018-2019 campaign that will begin on Sept. 29 in Kitimat vs. the Ice Demons.
“I think everyone’s pretty excited,” said Bret Roth, the team’s goalie. “…There was a little bit of disappointment at the end of the season but I think we’re looking up, I think the squad’s going to be pretty good this year.”