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Rock launch Facebook auctions

The NOJHL’s Timmins Rock are looking to a series of Facebook auctions to help recoup some of the revenues lost when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of what the team had hoped would be a deep playoff run.

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“Looking on the positive side, we were fortunate to have one playoff game in Round 2 vs. Hearst,” said Rock president Ted Gooch.

“We were able to capitalize on a lot of good support and playoff revenue, but with the season being cut short, it definitely left us without some playoff revenue, which was a significant portion of this year’s (2019-20) budget.

“So, we need to come up with some new and innovative ways to help fundraise to make up for that lack of playoff revenue we lost.”

And it isn’t just hockey memorabilia that is up for grabs as part of the fundraiser.

“We will be posting three or four items every 48 hours and fans will have an opportunity to place bids in the comment are underneath the items,” Gooch said.

“Hopefully, it will garner some interest and help out the club financially.

“I have a really good connection with a friend and supporter of the club down in Toronto who owns a highly prestigious sports memorabilia company.

“So, we literally have access to hundreds of items. We are kind of handpicking ones we feel will be most popular, that will garner the most attention.

“We will have some non-sports items, as well, to kind of broaden our fan base of people looking to enter the collectibles game.

“We are going to have some great music items, with some signed LPs and records from highly sought after artists.

“A couple of samples would be Taylor Swift and Pearl Jam. We have some entertainment memorabilia, as well, in terms of movie posters signed by some great actors and actresses over the years.

“So, we really will have a wide variety of items that will hopefully suit everybody’s taste.”

Two of the four items currently up for bid — a replica Star Trek Captain Kirk top signed by Canadian actor William Shatner and a Back To The Future movie poster signed by Canadian actor Michael J. Fox — fit that bill.

The other two items currently up for bid include a New York Islanders puck signed by Hall of Fame right winger Mike Bossy and an 8 by 10 photo of Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, autographed by the legendary quarterback.

Bids will be accepted on those four items until 6:59 p.m. on Friday, with additional items to be posted soon after that auction closes.

The initial items generated $501 (autographed Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs jersey), $425 (autographed Braden Holtby Washington Capitals jersey) and $125 (autographed Dale Earnhardt Jr. ‘Racing To The Finish’ hardcover book).

“There will be some new surprises every 48 hours keep people interested,” Gooch said.

The team does not have a set goal in mind for the auctions, but they are hoping to raise a significant amount of cash.

“Right now, we have some left over bills from some suppliers we weren’t able to fulfill and we are hoping to get everything cleared off to move forward with a fresh, clean slate for whenever hockey starts,” Gooch said.

“So, certainly right now every dollar is crucial to our club. Anything that sells, gives us a profit. If we can sell 70-80% of the items we list, we will be very happy, for sure.”

The Rock also intend at some point to auction off their Florida Panthers-style third jerseys, but Gooch notes that will not happen until the series of Facebook auctions is complete.

“Those will be on their own website, for a seven-day period,” he said.

“Fans will be able to log in to the website on our website and place their bid on those.”

It will be the same process used to auction off the throwback Timmins Gold Bears and Timmins North Stars jerseys worn in previous seasons.

“We want to be very careful on how we fundraise,” Gooch said.

“It is very difficult to enter the community and ask for funds during these very difficult times with the economy slowing down.

“We are trying not to do it all at once and we are hoping once people get back to work, we can list our third jerseys later on this summer.”

The president notes the Rock’s board of directors has been meeting virtually to come up with innovative ways to raise funds.

“Of course, with the social distancing rules in place, something as simple as a spaghetti dinner or an NHL fundraiser is simply out of the question,” Gooch said.

“That has made it difficult to continue to raise money. “

“One of the items we will be looking at is an NHL Zoom meeting. Other teams and organizations across Canada have already begun this.

“An example would be we would get a current NHL player, say Auston Matthews, for a one-hour Zoom meeting and we would simply sell time slots.

“A person could purchase a couple of minutes within that Zoom meeting, spend a couple of minutes meeting Auston and he would sign an autograph for them personally on the webcam, take a few minutes to say hello and mail out the photo.

“So, we are looking at some virtual meet-and-greets with the chance to meet some current stars since they are currently not working right now.”

During a normal off season, one of the highlights is the Rock’s annual golf tournament featuring former NHL stars prior to the opening of training camp.

“It is too early to say if it will happen,” Gooch said.

“We do have an NHL celebrity tentatively booked and this year it would be held at the Hollinger (Golf Club).

“We are hoping by that time we will be able to proceed with it.”

With the cancellation of events such as the Sportsmen Show, the Home Show and Welcome to Timmins Night, the Rock have not had as many venues to sell season tickets, but the team’s strong showing on the ice has helped offset that.

“A lot of fans pre-purchased season tickets come playoff time to earn playoff tickets, so we did see a rise in season tickets,” Gooch said.

“In fact, going into this next season we are at approximately 315 already, which is the highest we have been at for this time of year.

“We are very thankful the fans are supporting us with our season tickets and we hope they continue to do so once everybody is back to work.”

One off-season event the Rock were forced to cancel, of course, was the Timmins Poutine Fest that had been scheduled for June.

“It had garnered a lot of interest in the community and people had been looking forward to it,” Gooch said.

“If we can’t push it until the end of summer, we will definitely bring it back next season.”