Print Edition: January 9, 2013
At this time last year the UFV Cascades men’s and women’s basketball teams were preparing for their first annual doubleheader at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC); what was supposed to become a yearly grudge-match between the Cascades and local rivals the TWU Spartans. That “annual” is in danger of being changed to “only” as Athletics are no longer sure if the event is in the best interest of the Cascades’ marketing or finances.
While a second annual match was in the plans for much of this year’s preseason, the Cascades’ Feb. 15 match up against the Spartans will be occurring at the Envision Athletic Centre (EAC) instead of the larger (and more expensive, even if the arena costs would be paid by the city) AESC. According to UFV Athletics Director Rocky Olfert, the cancellation of this fledgling tradition can be attributed to several factors.
First of all, the Harlem Globetrotters are performing at the AESC on Saturday, Feb. 15, which means the doubleheader would have had to be moved to Sunday, Feb. 16. Sunday events aren’t known to provide big crowds.
Secondly, last year the event failed to draw the number of fans both the AESC and UFV organizers were hoping for. Only 649 tickets were purchased out of the nearly 7000 seats available in the arena.
Thirdly, Olfert said the move reflected a renewed focus “to improve our home games here on campus . . . We’re not hurting for space here [at the EAC].” While the doubleheader may be moved back to the AESC at a future point, Olfert said, “I just don’t think we’re at that point yet.”
“The decision was partially based on the feedback from the coaches,” he continued. “If they would have came to me and said ‘we’d be really thrilled to do it again’ then I probably would have, you know, kept that process going. But why are you doing something when you’re getting feedback from students and from coaches that it was a great idea, but not something we’re quite ready for yet?”
Athletics marketing coordinator David Kent, who spearheaded last year’s doubleheader was disappointed in the cancellation, but largely understood the reasoning: “For me the goal [of the annual event] was the community buying into the fact that we are the highest level of amateur athletics in the country, and that both our basketball programs [are] top 10 in the country. I still don’t think that the Fraser Valley grasps that yet.”
Kent also said that, had the doubleheader occurred at the AESC this year, last year’s $15 ticket price would have been cut 33 per cent in an attempt to raise attendance. Also, the marketing campaign would have been heavily supported by AESC and Abbotsford Heat sales reps appealing to the Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope communities.
“Circumstances dictated that it wasn’t the best thing to do this year,” said Kent, but he continues to have strong hope that the event will return in the future.
AESC general manager Jason Blumenfeld confirmed that the arena is open to the idea of future cooperation with the Cascades despite this year’s cancellation.