Premier John Horgan spoke to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday, and the premier says he was told the province is well positioned as the NHL considers options for resuming its season.
Vancouver has been named as a potential ‘hub’ city where hockey teams could be housed and play games to limit travel and help finish the season.
Horgan has also mentioned other B.C. cities that have WHL arenas could be options as well.
“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George. The Kootenays have an outstanding facility as well, we have hotel space, so the sky really is the limit,” said Horgan.
“We certainly would be able to be a backstop in helping simply because we’re in the business, in order to bring something like that. With what we’ve just cancelled — the Memorial Cup — we have a huge group of people ready to get work to do anything we need to do,” said Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna Rocket’s owner.
The league is looking at appropriate facilities in cities with enough hotel space and a good track record dealing with COVID-19, according to the premier.
“It would be great. We’re sitting here with this facility, there’s one in Kamloops, there’s one in Victoria, they’re all similar in size, they could certainly be options,” said Hamilton.
Horgan has acknowledged public health requirements would still be in effect, such as a 14-day isolation period and that provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would need to give approval to any plan from the NHL to operate in the province.
“There are ways we can do it safely. I think it’s an interesting idea and I think there are ways we can look at games being played in B.C.,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The NHL has been publicly toying with the idea of resuming its 2019-2020 season soon, and WHL arenas could be the NHL’s answer.