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Edmonton Sun: Boots to Aviators at Gate

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A target audience of 11,000 per game ? Not too sure about that :

Ma Nature, disinterest puts boots to Aviators at gate

By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

* Heroes with a zero

* Super sub Ash takes big bite out of Heatwave

* Aviators held to goalless draw

Mother Nature's lack of co-operation meant there would be no record-setting attendance mark for the Aviators.

There's still time, though, according to Aviators president Wylie Stafford, who hoped his club might take another crack at the 25,000 mark later this summer. The announced crowd of 1,913 at Commonwealth Stadium was a colossal disappointment, but the Aviators aren't crying the blues.

"We've known all along this was a three-year climb," said Stafford. "We're still going to play out our original concept, which was to communicate through our players and coaches to everyone in minor soccer and encourage them to come out.

"Our strategy has always been to have our players connect with the kids so they want to follow the players they get to know."

The Aviators' business plan was set with a target audience of 11,000 per game, which the club feels it can achieve despite being forced by the Edmonton Eskimos into altering their own schedule. In fact, the Aviators have just one weekend home date left.

But weeknight matches have worked well in Montreal and the Aviators have to hope they can create more buzz about their contests.

"All the elements are in place to have success," said Dave Askinas, commissioner of the United Soccer League - the umbrella organization in charge of the A- and W-Leagues.

"There is a knowledgeable fan base here and the casual fans will come out on a nice day for an event.

"In Montreal, Vancouver and Rochester, it's become the thing to do on a summer night and there's no reason it can't happen here."

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Well, the Triple-A Baseball Trappers will be leaving town at the end of this season (it is a successful franchise, but the wowners want to make some money selling it and the ML teams prefer to have their farm players closer), so maybe there will be somewhat less competition for the evenings next year. But, there will have to be a major reduction in ticket prices before it comes close to becoming "the thing to do on a summer night", even if the weather is its usually idyllic". The issue is whether the club can survive financially by the time (if) it


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