As the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the professional sports world for the time being — removing fans from arenas and stadiums, and, in some instances, sending players and coaches to third-party locations to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus — one subtle instance of normalcy has continued during Colorado Avalanche games: the Youth Sports 50/50 Raffle.
An in-person staple at the Pepsi Center for years, the raffle has moved online while the Avalanche compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference’s hub city of Edmonton.
While now completely virtual, the raffle remains an important fundraising tool for the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA).
The raffle, which evenly divides the net proceeds from ticket sales between the winner and CAHA, Kroenke Sports Charities, and other youth sports programs in the state, began in 2012. Since then, it’s resulted in roughly $160,000 per season. Almost $4,000 was raised by the raffle at the last Avalanche home game, a March 11 showdown against the New York Rangers.
CAHA President Randy Kanai estimated that online sales accounted for around 5% of each game’s total sum before the process went completely remote. Online sales totals are likely to change as a result of Denver’s professional sports void, but Kanai is optimistic the raffle can continue succeeding.
“Obviously the sales aren’t what they are in-game, but the plus side of that is it’s giving us a chance to test the marketing,” Kanai said. “It’s giving us a chance to kind of dip our toe in that whole marketing effort to see what the potential is with online sales.”
While the raffle is usually conducted only for home games for the Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Mammoth and Colorado Rapids, selling tickets while the teams aren’t in Denver isn’t completely unprecedented. (The Nuggets, however, are not participating in the raffle as their NBA season continues in Orlando, Florida.)
CAHA runs the raffle when teams are playing away games — even when all of the teams are on the road — although it doesn’t usually raise as much money. CAHA will also pool into one drawing the money from ticket sales from raffles held during multiple road games.
Under normal circumstances, fans buy tickets (in person or online) from pregame to near the end of the third period or fourth quarter. Shortly before the game ends, a winning number is drawn and the pool is split.
CAHA receives half and distributes the funds to various youth sports initiatives throughout Colorado. CAHA may be a hockey organization, but that’s not the only sport the money benefits.
“We donate money, not only to hockey organizations, but we donated to basketball, to Denver Public Schools, to baseball to lacrosse, to curling...to just about any sport you can think of, we’ve donated money to.” Kanai said.
Fans can buy raffle tickets online and find winning numbers at www.5050colorado.com. Participants must be 18 years or older. The 50/50 raffle runs through the Stanley Cup semifinals and will end on Sept. 2 at 9 p.m. MST.
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