Edmonton Elks try to recover low attendance and attract new fans for 2024 season

Click to play video: 'Filling the seats at Commonwealth Stadium'
Filling the seats at Commonwealth Stadium
The 2024 CFL season is underway for the Elks, but there’s still one thing that’s unfortunately lacking: the energy from a full stadium. Jaclyn Kucey has more on the team’s efforts to attract new fans – Jun 14, 2024

As Edmonton Oilers games sell out and demand for watch party space grows, the Elks have the opposite problem. Despite reducing seat capacity, fans still aren’t filling them.

“It’s fun going to Commonwealth, being outside, having some drinks, but at the end of the day, they need to win some games,” said one Edmonton sports fan.

In 2015, the Double E saw an average of 31,517 fans per game, a CFL high. Last year, attendance dropped to 22,239.

In the last five seasons, the Elks have had 11 games with more than 30,000 fans. In the 2023 season, just the home opener against Saskatchewan (32,233) and the Labour Day rematch against Calgary (32,422) sold more than 30,000 tickets. For the 2024 season home opener against the Roughriders, the Elks sold 20,681 tickets.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Elks to close upper bowl of Commonwealth Stadium for 2024 season'
Edmonton Elks to close upper bowl of Commonwealth Stadium for 2024 season

Travis Currah, a CFL super fan, says in the last few years, he’s felt the connection of fans to the team is weaker.

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“When you think you get to know a player, you put the name and the numbers on your jersey that you bought, and they’re gone,” said Currah. He hosts the 2 and Out CFL Podcast.

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Currah is a season seat holder for both the Elks and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. His allegiance is to the Riders and his wife’s allegiance is to the Elks. No matter who’s on the field, he says the pride of watching Canadian football is what drives his passion.

“Watching Cleveland versus Jacksonville in the NFL, that doesn’t mean anything to me, but watching Regina, Saskatchewan versus Edmonton versus Calgary, I can relate to that. I’ve been to those cities,” said Currah.

But pride isn’t enough. Currah said cheaper seats or improved accessibility could help.

“I don’t know how it’s possible, but to get fans closer to the action I think would go a long way to changing that experience,” said Currah.

Click to play video: 'Commonwealth Stadium gets $2M in improvements'
Commonwealth Stadium gets $2M in improvements

Brian Soebbing, a sports management expert at the University of Alberta, said at this point, it isn’t about selling out, it’s about finding experiences that go beyond football to draw fans, like Elk theme nights and tailgate parties that the franchise is already trying.

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“Are we able to see an increase to what maybe what it would’ve been without it,” said Soebbing.

The Elks say the team is already working on all of these ideas and more and working to create new, exciting experiences.

Improvements have been made, the upper bowl has been closed to bring fans closer together, and Evan Daum said new season seat sales increased this year.

“We’re just going to continue to work and make sure to get the word out that there are a lot of things to do here and that it’s about the overall experience as much as anything,” said Daum.

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