Source: Sherman Publications

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Bingo no longer jackpot for sports boosters

by Susan Bromley

June 22, 2011

Brandon Twp.- In its heyday, bingo raised nearly $100,000 per year for the All-Sports Brandon Boosters. The weekly events held at the Player's Hall in Waterford drew 115-120 people on any given Saturday and were a boon for the Boosters, which supports athletes in the Brandon School District.

But lately, attendance has been less than half of what it used to be. Last year, profits dropped to just $12,000, with $7,000 paying for participation fees for athletes and the remainder paying the salary of a person who ensures the organization is compliant with state gaming laws and records are properly kept.

Last Saturday, the weekly bingo fundraiser that the organization has held for the past 15 years was cancelled for lack of attendance.

Taking all the above into consideration, bingo fundraising will be a thing of the past for the boosters by the end of summer.

"In the interest of staying afloat, we are shutting it down and looking for other opportunities to raise funds," said Craig Whitaker, All Sports Brandon Boosters president.

The failure of the formerly successful bingo fundraisers, he explained, is due to players spending less and attending less because of the economy, as well as a new bingo hall opening in Waterford. The Boosters are now looking at operating at a deficit or breaking even for this year.

"Bingo has always been our bread and butter," said Whitaker. "Concession profits are more of a courtesy than a moneymaker at home events."

The main objective of the Boosters in raising funds is to purchase equipment and provide training aids for teams in the district, including football, baseball, and tennis. In the past, money raised also paid the pay-to-participate fees of student athletes.

To continue to provide assistance to the Brandon athletic programs, the Boosters will move in another direction. Plans are underway to organize regular bus trips to casinos and sporting events including Detroit Tigers baseball games. Whitaker is hoping to put together more raffles, as well as spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts to benefit the varsity teams in their upcoming seasons.

One event that Whitaker is especially excited about is a possible flag football game between current varsity players and alumni football players.

"We are judging interest," said Whitaker, who has spoken with current Blackhawks Varsity Football Coach Tim Pizzala and said he is on board. "We have a competition date available for later this summer. We would like the community to come out and support the teams in a fun atmosphere. It could turn into an annual event, they could meet new varsity players and meet the coach and get a feel for what they can expect this fall."

If you are a former BHS football player interested in participating, or for more information on how you can assist the Boosters, contact Craig Whitaker at 248-207-9800 or e-mail