With soaring prize pools, to say the 50/50 draws at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship have been a hit is a huge understatement.
The draws for this year’s tournament at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon and Brandt Centre in Regina are using a new electronic system and sales have far exceeded organizers’ expectations. The new system was developed by 50/50 Central, a company based in Summerside, P.E.I.
“The total pot sizes have been nothing short of phenomenal, and all the winners have just been ecstatic,” said Craig Sled, assistant vice-president of sales and marketing for the host organizing committee.
The winner of Saturday’s draw during the game between Canada and Latvia walked away with a whopping $34,980 – half of the total pool of $69,960.
What makes the electronic system so unique is that fans can see the up-to-the-second running total of the 50/50 pool on screens around the arena. As soon as someone buys a ticket, the pool is updated on the screens.
“Having the displays on the scoreboard, the TVs around the arena and at each 50/50 station really builds the excitement. The lineups to get tickets have just been unbelievable,” said Sled.
It’s not just Canada’s games that are raking in big pools either. Sunday’s game between United States and Switzerland featured a total 50/50 pool of $50,010. And the pools are only expected to continue growing as the tournament goes on.
“Our goal is to break $100,000 for the U.S.-Canada game on New Year’s Eve,” said Sled.
To keep up with the high demand for tickets the host committee is increasing the number of 50/50 stands from six to eight and the number of handheld stations from 12 to 18 for Canada’s game against the Swiss on Monday.
With pot sizes as big as they have been, it hasn’t taken much enticing from the volunteers selling tickets to get fans to buy.
“People just come. They’re excited when they can see the amount increasing right there on the screen,” said volunteer 50/50 vendor Marj Stevens.
The host committee uses its half of the pools to pay for the expenses of hosting the tournament. Any net profit made by the committee goes back in to minor hockey programs in Saskatchewan.