Kelowna Rockets win right to host 2020 Memorial Cup

Click to play video: 'Kelowna Rockets fans excited about hosting Memorial Cup in 2020'
Kelowna Rockets fans excited about hosting Memorial Cup in 2020
Fans thrilled with news that the Kelowna Rockets will host the Memorial Cup in 2020 – Oct 4, 2018

Kelowna, and not Kamloops or Lethbridge, will play host to the Memorial Cup in 2020.

The Western Hockey League announced via social media on Wednesday afternoon that Kelowna had won the bidding competition for junior hockey’s showcase tournament. Kamloops, Kelowna and Lethbridge had submitted bids to host the event, and made presentations in Calgary on Wednesday, with WHL governors voting for Kelowna.

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“The WHL is very confident the Kelowna Rockets, the City of Kelowna and province of British Columbia will serve as outstanding hosts of the 2020 Memorial Cup presented by Kia,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a press release. “The Kelowna Rockets bid not only met all the requirements to host a Memorial Cup, but they also have exceptional facilities and the strong community support necessary to host a national event of this magnitude.”

“We are extremely honored and feel very privileged to have the Memorial Cup coming to Kelowna in 2020,” said Bruce Hamilton, president and general manager of the Rockets. “I want to thank the Western Hockey League Board of Governors for their support of our bid, and also congratulate our Kelowna Bid Committee.”

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The WHL made the announcement on Facebook Live, and prior to the announcement, comments were pouring in from hockey fans wanting to see their community win.

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The 2020 Memorial Cup will take place May 22 to May 31 at Prospera Place.

The event rotates annually between the WHL, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Kelowna hosted the Memorial Cup in 2004, while Kamloops hosted in 1995. Lethbridge has never hosted the tournament despite several bids to do so.

Since 2000, the WHL has hosted the event in 2001 (Regina), 2004 (Kelowna), 2007 (Vancouver), 2010 (Brandon), 2013 (Saskatoon), 2016 (Red Deer) and 2018 (Regina). Of the seven times, Eastern Conference teams have hosted the tournament four times, including the past four.

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Generally, when it comes to deciding which city wins, governors have to consider several factors, such as location, rink size, team roster and profit margin. It’s the last that usually gets the most attention, as all WHL teams will get a slice of that profit pie. The bigger the pie, the bigger the slice.

In August, Lethbridge got a big boost when Lethbridge city council announced that it would chip in $1 million to the Hurricanes’ bid.

The Rockets said they wouldn’t be knocking at Kelowna city council’s door for money, but said they would apply for grants and what-not if they were available.

The financial wildcard was Kamloops. Longtime WHL beat writer Gregg Drinnan noted on his blog that “earlier this year, Canadian Business estimated the net worth of the Gaglardi family, through Northland Properties, at $3.92 billion, up 10.4 per cent from 2017. Tom Gaglardi owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and is the majority owner of the Blazers.”

The 2018 Memorial Cup, which was the 100th edition of the annual championship, was held in Regina, with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL claiming the title after blanking the host Pats 3-0 in the final.

At Regina, during round-robin play, Acadie-Bathurst (2-1), Regina (2-1) and OHL champion Hamilton (2-1) had identical records, while WHL champion Swift Current (0-3) was winless. Acadie-Bathurst was handed first place and the bye into the final, while Regina dumped Hamilton 4-2 in the semifinal game.

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The 2019 Memorial Cup will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 17th to 26th. The host Halifax Mooseheads have an automatic berth in the tournament as hosts, but they’re off to a strong start this season with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record. So far, Halifax is the only unbeaten team in the 18-team QMJHL.

The WHL has won 19 Memorial Cup championships since its inaugural season in 1966, including: Red Deer (2001), Kootenay (2002), Kelowna (2004), Vancouver (2007), Spokane (2008) and Edmonton (2014).

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