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Calgary Stampeders kick off '200 Club' campaign offering season-ticket experience for women

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With the Calgary Stampeders' season set to kick off, there's a push to get more female fans to the stadium.

Lois Mitchell, former lieutenant-governor of Alberta, and Jay McNeil, Stampeders president, started the campaign to attract a new fan base to Calgary's pro football team.

The goal is to get 100 women to commit to two season tickets each before the June 7 home opener.

"It's introducing the game to a different demographic, and introducing the Stampeders as a brand," McNeil said.

"Our fan base is largely older white males.

"The honourable Lois Mitchell really has been spearheading this project. She calls it the 200 Club."

As a season-ticket holder since 1992, Toni Ion-Brown can attest to the benefits of supporting the team in person.

"I've been in the same section for over 25 years," she said.

"It's like a football family."

Her section has included five generations of her actual family, as well as her best friend since second grade, and other season-ticket holders.

Ion-Brown, general manager of the Calgary Petroleum Club, is part of the team trying to attract women to join the 200 Club.

"It starts in May with the early pre-season game. It's over in November. And it's just a short season. It's for everybody, and it's affordable," she said.

Toni Ion-Brown (left) has sat in the same section for more than 25 years. Her section has included five generations of her family, as well as her best friend since second grade, and other season-ticket holders.

Season tickets for one person are being offered at a discounted rate of $995 for the 10 games – 11 if the team makes the playoffs.

The football club is also offering incentives for this dedicated group of Stamps supporters, including seating all of these women together.

"In Section T, my section, the sunny side," Ion-Brown said.

"It's right behind the visitors' bench. So people in Section T, we have an important job to do. We have to cheer on our team and, you know, rattle up the opponent."

They will also get unique benefits including a speaker series, two sideline experiences and the possibility of flying with the team charter for an away game.

Toni Ion-Brown (front, second from right) has sat in the same section for more than 25 years. Her section has included five generations of her family, as well as her best friend since second grade, and other season-ticket holders.

Sports marketing researcher and educator Cheri Bradish said some people have a misconception that there are not a lot females in sports or supporting sports.

"We're at a time where sport and sport fandom is really equitable," said Bradish, director of the Future of Sport Lab and chair of marketing management at Ted Rogers School of Management.

She says marketing doesn't always need to be different for men and women, but women are more holistic consumers.

"If you want to have women that are fans of you as an organization, you really should think about what are my organizational values towards women, not just to buy a ticket," she said.

"You want to look at everything from tip to top … whether it be the sideline entertainment, who they talk to, when they buy tickets, who they see on the sidelines.

"They want to see a diverse sport experience and they want to see that you actually support women in the organization."

Aside from all the football fun, the 200 Club will also offer a platform for networking, learning and friendship.

"We're going to have 200 women in Section T … new football fans, seasoned football fans … bringing people together supporting our community."

McMahon Stadium's capacity is 35,157 and it saw an average attendance of 23,458 in 2022 and 21,698 in 2023.

McNeil says the number of season-ticket members has been declining since 2015.

He says the 200 Club is part of a strategy of investing in season-ticket members, fan engagement and fan growth that began in 2023.

The Stamps' ticket office can be found online here.

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