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HomeSportsHockeyHalifax Thunderbirds offer discount to students who sit in their new “ThunderZone”

Halifax Thunderbirds offer discount to students who sit in their new “ThunderZone”

One of Halifax’s younger sports venues is looking to add some younger voices to its already packed crowd.

The Halifax Thunderbirds lacrosse club is pushing for more students to attend games this season, offering a near 30 per cent discount on tickets for students sitting in section 36, in the upper bowl of the Scotiabank Centre, dubbed the “ThunderZone.” 

Since the team’s first game in 2019, the Halifax Thunderbirds games have been locally popular. Maki Jenner, the Thunderbirds’ communications manager, says the average attendance is 9,197 people per game. 

This exceeds the average attendance at games for the Halifax Mooseheads, the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team that plays out of the same arena as the Thunderbirds, according to recent reports. 

Student engagement at Thunderbirds games has been relatively low. Jenner suspects that the problem with reaching the younger crowd lies in the price of tickets. 

“One of our biggest complaints has been the price of tickets,” she said. “Halifax is, I think, more used to the price of Mooseheads tickets, and while they’re awesome games, the fact that they are a ‘junior’ team means that they won’t be as expensive.”  

Students have school expenses on top of living costs, so Jenner says getting them to buy a more expensive ticket can be challenging. 

To help, the ticketing department has made section 36 in the upper bowl of the Scotiabank Centre into the “ThunderZone.” According to Jenner, this is an area where students can buy tickets for around 30 per cent cheaper, excluding Ticketmaster fees.

Students can sign up for these discounted tickets through a Thunderbirds newsletter. After signing up, they receive a code which they can use when buying a ticket in the ThunderZone. The newsletter is available to all those who register for it through the Thunderbirds website or on the team’s social media accounts. 

Through two home games in the 2023-24 season, 100 students from all local universities, including even Acadia University and Memorial University of Newfoundland, have registered for the newsletter. 

Since the “dynamic of the city is young with so many universities in the area, the need to get students more involved was a no-brainer,” Jenner says. 

According to Jenner, even though lacrosse is Canada’s national sport, it is still growing in popularity and many are unfamiliar with the rules. However, she doesn’t think you have to know all the rules before you can enjoy watching a game. With tickets now less expensive for students, Jenner hopes that they will use games as a “pre-going-out type thing.” 

“The drinking here is outrageous,” Jenner says, “but that’s what makes our games so much fun.” 

At the Thunderbirds home game against the Toronto Rock on Jan. 17, students were in the stands. According to Sam Richardson, a fourth-year Dalhousie student, who was at his first Thunderbirds game, “the atmosphere is unmatched.” 

Following a three-goal night at the game against the Rock, Randy Staats, a Thunderbirds forward, said that the Halifax crowd is “always going nuts,” and that this is his “favourite place to play.” 

Staats has played six seasons in the National Lacrosse League and is in his second season with the Thunderbirds. 

Cole Kirst, a rookie on the Thunderbirds, says that it’s “unbelievable to look up into the stands and see all the support, not just for the Thunderbirds, but for the sport of lacrosse as well.” 

The lacrosse community is still relatively small, but, according to Jenner, it is tight-knit, which is part of what makes it special. 

“It’s a very inviting community,” she says. “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to grow the game together.”

“If you were to turn around in your seat and ask someone what’s going on, odds are they’ll happily explain, or they won’t really know but will try and explain anyway.” 

If they were to understand the game, Kirst says that they’d probably tell you it’s a bit of a mix between basketball and hockey. Similarities to basketball seem a bit of a stretch with the fighting and cross-checking, but Jenner says that sports fans will pick up on the “pick-and-rolls” as well as “two-man” games being played. 

To the casual observer, Staats’s pitch may be more compelling; “Hitting, fighting, lots of scoring…if you like a fast-paced game, this is it.”

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