The B.C. Hockey League has big plans for its next all-star weekend and Penticton city council has stepped up to make it happen locally.
Council has unanimously approved an investment of $50,000, in order for the city to host the BCHL All-Star Game for the second time in as many years.
The league’s weekend-long event last took place in January 2023, at both the South Okanagan Events Centre and Penticton’s downtown outdoor rink. It had an economic impact locally of $287,000, according to the city.
Local politicians heard Tuesday, Sept. 12, that league officials from the BCHL plan on welcoming additional stars for its alumni game, connecting with national media outlets and increasing province-wide attendance in Penticton ahead of its next all-star weekend, set for Jan. 19 to 21, 2024.
But the city also has its own ambitious plans for the weekend, with staff telling council this week that they hope the event this January will kickstart a new wintertime tradition in downtown Penticton.
A ‘winter festival concept’ during the BCHL’s flagship event that includes ice sculptures, snow rail jams and family-friendly activities inside Gyro Park was also pitched to council.
The idea was met with praise.
“To be able to target an event and bring people into the city in the winter when we normally have people exiting to go down to warmer places is a great opportunity to see more culture and vibrancy come to the downtown,” said Coun. Isaac Gilbert.
Council’s $50,000 investment is only for the 2024 BCHL All-Star Game Weekend.
A long-term deal between the city and BCHL has yet to be reached to keep the event in Penticton past this January.
“We have certainly signalled interest on both ends, with the city of Penticton and BCHL, to enter into a longer-term agreement,” said Kelsey Johnson, the city’s manager of recreation. “We just require a little more time in order to determine the appropriate amount.”
The BCHL’s event earlier this year featured a 3-on-3 all-star game, prospects showcase, skills competition and alumni game with former NHL stars Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Morrison.
All individual events, with the exception of the prospects game, went ahead at the outdoor rink next to city hall.
Along with the estimated economic impact of $290,000, staff say next’s year event will also bring $17,500 in combined revenue for local group Activate Pentiction, SOEC, and City of Penticton.