December 17th, 2017

No hockey tourney for 2018, but still a chance for 2019

By Collin Gallant on October 11, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO SEAN ROONEY Ron Webb, chair of the bid committee looking to bring the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge to Medicine Hat, holds up his groupÕs bid package after presenting it to city council in July. The group was recently told the bid was unsuccessful but the group has high hopes for hosting the 2019 tournament, the deadline for which is about one month away.


cgallant@medicinehatnews.com
@CollinGallant

The bad news is Medicine Hat won’t be hosting a major scouting hockey tournament in 2018, Ron Webb, the head of a bid committee for World under-17 Hockey Challenge, said on Tuesday.

The good news is the next deadline, for the 2019 tournament, is only about one month away.

Webb and a local organizing committee announced in August they were in the advanced stages of bidding on next year’s tournament.

This week they were told that event will soon be awarded to a competing city, but also that an accelerated bid process will see the following tournament awarded sooner than expected.

“Our hope is that a lot of the legwork is done,” Webb said on Tuesday. “If we had a good bid for 2018, and we can incorporate some of the comments, we’ll have a strong case to host in 2019.”

According to Webb, an initial conversation with Hockey Canada officials suggests some budget revision is needed as well as a better strategy to bolster attendance.

He said a more indepth conversation will take place next week about in the local 2018 bid, but he’s confident minor tweaks will overcome any current shortfall.

“The goal was to put together a bid that would be favourable to Hockey Canada in this or future years,” said Webb.

The group, including minor hockey groups, the city, tourism and accommodation industry officials, is dedicated to bringing the tournament here, said Webb.

In that vein, the committee will have short turnaround time, as Hockey Canada has changed its bid schedule.

Those hoping to host in 2019 must submit their intentions by mid-November, and the winner will be announced in January.

The plan in the recent bid laid out the Canalta Centre as the main venues, with the Kinplex arenas in Medicine Hat as secondary locations and exhibition games slated for Ralston and the Brooks Centennial Arena,

The six-nation tournament, which features three teams from Canada, is held each fall by Hockey Canada. This year’s tournament is set to begin next month in the twin host cities of Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, B.C.

The City of Medicine Hat voted in late August to dedicate $125,000 toward the bid and also give assurance it would cover any financial shortfall in the $1.2-million budget.

The city’s grant is specific to hosting a tournament in 2018, meaning that council may be required to re-approve their support by the middle of next month. Council is slated to sit in early November following the current municipal election.

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