Memorial Cup bid gets help as gardens get some upgrades

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Some upgrades to the GFL Memorial Gardens have already taken place including a new video card while upgraded lighting and chandeliers are also underway.

In the hopes that this could help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Soo Greyhounds have the city’s backing when it comes to the organization trying to secure the hospitality rights of the 2021 Memorial Cup.

In a discussion at city council on Monday night, council voted to support a $ 300,000 funding request as part of the Greyhounds bid.

“The organization of the 2021 Memorial Cup would align with economic and tourism development strategies and would successfully achieve the City’s goal of stimulating the economy within our economy,” said the report, written by Tom Vair, Deputy Director General of Community Development and Business Services. a written report to council on Monday evening. “In particular, the organization of the 2021 Memorial Cup would help the segments hardest hit by COVID-19, including the hotel and hospitality industry, and would be a significant boost for the recovery of the COVID-19.

When applying for funding, the 10-day tournament is expected to generate up to 2,400 hotel nights locally.

Requested by Coun. Matthew Shoemaker of the possibility of other opportunities in the foreseeable future that would affect local hotels like the Memorial Cup would, Vair said: “There are no plans with the scale and scope of the Memorial Cup. .

Greyhounds President and Governor Tim Lukenda spoke about the team exploring the possibility of hosting the tournament after an OHL meeting where the league discussed ticket prices on other larger markets as an issue.

“They thought the price of tickets to some of these sites was getting a little out of reach,” Lukenda said. “They thought the downside of going to the big centers was that it put it a bit out of reach for the average junior hockey fan. They actually put forward a motion at our annual meeting to try to encourage smaller centers to have the opportunity to come back into the game. Because of this change in philosophy and sentiment, that’s what first threw up. the seeds with me for our city to try to compete for it.

Lukenda responded to concerns about how COVID-19 could affect the tournament.

“It is certainly an ambitious endeavor at the best of times,” said Lukenda. “We’re taking an approach of trying to do our best and assuming that we will be able to function as much as possible on June 17th. We recognize that we don’t know what the state of the world will be like at this point. We’re talking about the full experience, we’re assuming it’s going to be a full ten day event, festival, and city-wide opportunity to really show off our city.

“In the event that we are not in this position, we will work with the league to find out if there will be an event at all,” Lukenda added.

Mayor Christian Provenzano responded to the request, saying “we need to look beyond COVID. ”

“We need to start putting things in motion and shaking things up that could help us develop and grow after COVID,” added Provenzano. “Things don’t just happen all of a sudden. Things only happen after a lot of time, a lot of planning and a lot of work. ”

Potential improvements to the rink were also brought up in the discussion.

Lukenda confirmed the installation of the new video panel in the arena, an investment committed by the team, and also noted an upgrade to the lighting and chandeliers which were supported by the city.

Lukenda added that the upgraded lighting and chandeliers were required by the OHL as part of increased security measures.

The building could also see other changes in regards to the changing room space, among others, but Lukenda said that these are areas “we are convinced that we can modify in the existing arena, but it may take – be some temporary changes to try to ensure all the required items, and they are stated very clearly in the bid, are incorporated into our rink.

Lukenda added that the team budgeted for these possibilities.

When asked about the estimate, Lukenda said that “we have set aside $ 200,000 in our overall budget for the types of things I mentioned beyond the money already spent.”

Vair and Lukenda both said further discussions could take place between the team and City if the tournament continues with a scaled-down version.

“If the Greyhounds wanted to proceed with the event and there were any changes, that’s where it would come down to city council,” Vair said.

“It is important that we begin the presentation of the proposal by understanding the financial commitments that we have in place,” Lukenda added. “From my point of view, we are looking for commitments on the understanding that it takes place and that it is an event in its own right. In case this is not the case we will definitely come back to explain it to you and in any case we will endeavor to communicate openly and fully through this process with the city.

The $ 300,000 comes from the City’s Economic Development Fund, which currently has an uncommitted balance of $ 521,938.

Vair has confirmed that the money could potentially be split between 2020 and 2021 if further requests for EDF money are made in 2020.

The Oshawa generals were the only other team to express interest in hosting the event.

The team visited Oshawa Council in mid-July and the city approved financial support in the order of $ 360,000 for the generals’ candidacy.

The money would be used if the city had the opportunity to host the tournament.

The money would see $ 200,000 used for in-kind services, a cash contribution of $ 50,000 and $ 110,000 for arena upgrades at the Tribute Communities Center, the generals home arena.

In-kind services include rental of facilities which would include rental of practice ice at local arenas and personnel costs (eg, bailiffs, dealership staff, housekeeping, building cleaners) during the tournament. The $ 50,000 contribution would be used to fund the fan fest, an outdoor café with entertainment and other incidental expenses.

Planned improvements to the arena would include expanding the video reading room and installing countdown clocks for the locker rooms.

Durham Regional Council, which includes eight municipalities in the Oshawa region, has also approved financial support of $ 250,000 if the generals get the tournament.

In an interview last week, OHL commissioner David Branch said the league hopes to be able to announce details of the selection process “within the next two weeks.”

The process began in February when the Greyhounds and Generals announced their intention to bid on hosting rights.

Following these announcements, the initial plan was for both organizations to make formal in-person presentations to the Memorial Cup venue selection committee in mid-April, with the host team being announced ahead of the 2020 tournament in Kelowna, in British Columbia in May.

The process has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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