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Clear the concourse

Cam Tait writes about the EOCF and its 30 year tradition

by Cam Tait @Camtait / EdmontonOilers.com

There has been some fast and furious action from the Edmonton Oilers in the third period this hockey season at Rogers Place.

But take a look on the concourse. Say, halfway through the final period. There is a long-standing tradition that has carried forward to Rogers Place. It's one that has been widely and generously supported by Oilers fans for over 30 years now - the 50/50 raffle. The excitement begins when Oilers fans in unison raise their eyes to the scoreboard as the lucky number is announced by Oilers in-game host Ryan Jesperson - who playfully stretches his delivery of the numbers to increase the drama. And it's popular. Very popular.

Catherine Williams, Manager, Grant and Fund Development with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation say the average payout, this year, has been $78,577.

"We actually talk a lot with the Foundations for other National Hockey League teams," Catherine said. "We've done surveys with them and our average prize payout remains the highest in the league year after year."

"This is a testament to the generosity of Oilers fans and we are so fortunate to have their support".

Last hockey season $5.8 million worth of 50/50 tickets was sold at Oilers home games: $2.9 million to local charities and the same amount going to the lucky ticket holders.

Catherine says it's become part of the tradition for Oiler fans.

"It's become part of the game-day experience for our fans. It is part of their routine or tradition," said Catherine. "Fans come in, grab something to drink, grab their 50/50 ticket, and head to their seats."

And fans are superstitious, too.

Catherine says many fans go to the same location to buy tickets, or they purchase them at the same time during the game.

Perhaps, though, the real winners are minor hockey and ringette groups and other local charities. 

Last season, the EOCF received 82 applications to be part of the 50/50 draw at Oiler home games. 

Catherine says there are several factors for a group to be selected. They must be able to provide volunteers to the designated game to sell tickets throughout Rogers Place, and volunteers count cash after tickets are sold.

"It's always rewarding having our incredible volunteer groups in each game," Catherine said. "They bring so much enthusiasm and energy to the program. They are always so excited to participate." 

Another key factor is whether or not a group is eligible for funding through the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

And the group must fund programs for young people. 

"The charitable groups involved are so diverse and they provide support to our community through a wide variety of programs," said Catherine. "It's rewarding to know that the money these groups raise for the charities through the 50/50 directly supports our community."

In the end, people are touched by the 50/50 draw in many ways.

"I remember one of our winners came to claim the prize and told us that she had just been let go from her job the day before," said Catherine. "She couldn't believe her luck. She was so excited. It gave her hope and one less thing to worry about during a tough time in her life."

What a great way to leave an Oilers game.

(ctait@edmontonoilers.com)

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