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Coronavirus: NHL exploring resuming league, Kelowna’s Prospera Place could be the answer

Click to play video 'Kelowna’s Prospera Place could host NHL games' Kelowna’s Prospera Place could host NHL games
Kelowna’s Prospera Place could host NHL games – May 14, 2020

Live hockey could be coming to a WHL arena near you in B.C., but not the usual teams British Columbians are used to seeing.

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.

“We’ve heard from others around the [NHL] that others have ideas about perhaps having all the games played in British Columbia,” said Horgan.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Could ‘hockey-crazy’ British Columbia and its premier get the NHL back on ice?

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.

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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.

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In Kelowna, Prospera Place could be an option for the NHL, as the arena was outfitted for national broadcast for the now cancelled Memorial Cup.

“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.

READ MORE: ‘At least we know’: American Hockey League officially cancels remainder of the 2019-20 season

“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.

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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.

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