Oilers playoff fever is taking Edmonton by storm and fans are coming up with creative ways to watch games together.
Of course, there’s the patios and bars, which will show the hockey game to paying customers. There’s also the official away-game watch parties at Rogers Place, but they’ve been selling out in under 30 minutes. Even a spot in Ford Hall is very in demand and hard to come by.
So, groups have been gathering in community centres, churches and backyards to cheer on their team. Less conventional venues can offer guests free, family-friendly entertainment without having to contend with parking.
“Ever since we had her, we can’t go to pubs, we can’t go to bars,” said Alissa Donaldson, a volunteer at C3 Church. “Even Rogers Place is hard. She won’t sit in a chair,” she said about her daughter.
“Here, we’re with friends, we’re with family and people who love the Oilers.
“We’re always looking for free entertainment, stuff that you can just do with your friends that’s not going to cost a lot of money. I mean, Oilers tickets are a lot of money,” Donaldson added.
In Mill Woods, another church attracted a crowd of young people, eager to catch the game with their friends.
“Teenagers sometimes don’t have healthy environments and outlets to go to, especially on the weekend,” said Ken McIntyre, a volunteer at Mill Woods Assembly. “It’s just a safe place that they can make friends.”
On the north side, Killarney Community Centre has been hosting free viewing parties for every Oilers playoff game. They’re family friendly and everyone is welcome, including those who don’t live in the neighbourhood.
“They love it,” Al Deren, the Killarney hall director, said. “They just love it. This is a brand-new, 119-inch big screen TV and we just had it installed two months ago, so this is a test to get people up here.”