Elite Jr A hockey tournament could be coming to the Lakeland
Robb Hunter presented to Bonnyville Town Council last night that the same volunteer committee that brought in the World Jr A Challenge would now like to go after bringing the RBC Cup to town, in 2019. “The World Jr A Challenge (WJAC) was international, the RBC Cup is a national competition that’ll bring the best Jr A teams in the country,” should the committee be successful in bringing in the tournament, Robb expects an even bigger event than the WJAC; bigger fan fare and bigger economic spin off.
“Before last December, we had a thought that Bonnyville was a hockey town. During last December, we proved that Bonnyville was a hockey town!” Robb says the WJAC showed the passion for the sport and the excitement from the local fans for elite hockey, “it was a successful event, everyone enjoyed it and there was a tremendous economic spin-off,” Robb estimates the region saw $2 million economically from the week-long tournament.
The event was so successful that representatives from Hockey Canada urged Robb that the committee bid on more elite tournaments; specifically mentioning the RBC Cup. What’s really cool about the RBC Cup is if successful, the town’s Jr A team has an automatic entry into the event (not that the Pontiacs would need it… right?!).
Councillor, for the Town of Bonnyville, Ray Prevost says it’s a no-brainer that the Town should support the bid, “there wasn’t a complaint or negative comment [from the WJAC]. There’s no doubt that I would support the RBC Cup.” Prevost did have some questions for Robb, including if the selection committee tries to take the tournament alternating from east to west each year. Seeing as the tournament is in Chilliwack, BC in 2018, Prevost wanted to know if that would hinder Bonnyville’s chances. “We’re more east than Chilliwack,” laughed Robb. He followed up with the reassurance that the selection committee selects the best bid, “it will be somewhat of a factor, as they like to spread it across the country. There’s no set schedule, like it was east last year so it has to be west this year.” Robb also assured Council that although the event was held in Lloydminister in 2016, that doesn’t mean they won’t bring it back to the general area, “it’s all about who has the best bid.” The event will be in Cobourg, Ontario May 13-21, 2017.
“What they are most interested in is, the fan experience, the volunteer capacity and can the committee secure the funds necessary to host an event of this magnitude,” Robb believes from experience with the WJAC, Bonnyville answers and excels at all those factors. “I wouldn’t be wasting my time if I didn’t think we would be successful.”
Robb anticipates that the event will bring in a larger economic spin-off than the WJAC because the teams are local to the country, “think of how many fans would travel to Ontario if the Pontiacs made it?”, with a raised hand from Mayor of Bonnyville Gene Sobolewski, Robb smiled, “it’ll be the same if the event is held here.” Not only would you have the local hockey fans, but you’d have the travelling fans; which were smaller for the WJAC because it was international. Secondly, the tournament runs Saturday to the following Sunday, adding a couple days to it’s length, meaning more hotel and restaurants will be visited.
The Town of Bonnyville Council, unanimously, voted to give Robb a letter of support that is needed for the March 20th preliminary bud deadline. Should Bonnyville pass the preliminary bid round, Robb and the committee will work on securing the funds necessary to host the RBC Cup.