The 2020 Memorial Cup in Kelowna was “not meant to be,” according to a city staffer.
But that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have to pay for it.
The top junior hockey tournament in the country, hosted by the Canadian Hockey League, was slated to take Kelowna by storm in May.
“The 10-day festival would have been an event like no other,” said Doug Nicholas, the city’s sport and event services manager.
The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in those plans as it gained steam through the first few months of the year, eventually culminating in the event being entirely cancelled.
In August 2018, city council agreed to support a bid and committed $225,000 towards hosting the prestigious junior hockey event in 2020.
The CHL announced Kelowna won that bid in October 2018. It was anticipated that the tournament would bring over 10,000 visitors to the city between May 21 to 31, 2020 with an economic spinoff of more than $12 million to the local community.
Though none of the city’s initial commitment has been handed over to the host society, significant planning had taken place, resulting in losses of approximately $265,000. The city also estimated an economic spinoff of more than $12 million to the local community during the event.
Those costs will be shared between the city, the Kelowna Rockets and the WHL, amounting to around $90,000 from each organization.
The city’s funds would come from the initial $225,000 commitment, which is currently in a reserve. The remaining $135,000 would remain in reserve for a future bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup, the next time the tournament would be in Western Canada.
“That is the silver lining in all of this. Discussions are underway in getting Kelowna its opportunity to host the Memorial Cup,” said Nicholas.
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