Yellowknife looks to host Hockey Day in Canada 2020

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The national broadcasting event Hockey Day in Canada may be on its way to Yellowknife in February 2020, if city council approves it.

Councillors were given a presentation on Monday with a memo from Johanna Elliot, the city’s facilities manager, on the benefits of endorsing Hockey Day in Canada.

The event, which entails music, cultural festivities and hockey activities to the city, typically draws 9.6 million viewers, or one in every four Canadians.

In previous visits to the city, Rogers executive producers highlighted that Yellowknife would be ideal as a 2020 location.
The city would need to spend an estimated $55,000, which would include costs that wouldn’t be recoverable by ticket sales such as hiring a Hockey Day in Canada coordinator and the cost of power, according to Elliot.

The Hockey Day in Canada coordinator position would be responsible for attracting sponsorships and helping with logistics during the four-day event.

Rogers Sportsnet and Scotiabank, the main sponsors, will donate an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 each. That funding would be used for the broadcast; developing TV spots showcasing human interest stories and the history of Yellowknife; a Music of Hockey event; and hosting hockey personalities Ron MacLean and Don Cherry.

The 12 hours of broadcasting on Hockey Day in Canada will consist of coverage of games and footage gathered over the four days broadcasters and guests would be in town, Feb. 11-15.

“This will be like one big long Yellowknife commercial,” said Elliot.

Over those four days, Yellowknife would become host to a hockey music night, banquets, seniors and school visits from NHL alumni, free clinics for players and officials as well as a multitude of mini-games and activities open to the community.

One of the main attractions would include an NHL alumni game. Other featured games could include a Western Hockey League game and potentially a local high school hockey game.

There will be two free televised advertising spots available to the city, which are worth close to $15,000.

“This will a community event which will be accessible so that no one in the community will be left out,” Elliot said.

If approved, filming around Yellowknife would take place in the summer and fall to showcase the city in every season.

Councillor ‘very pumped’

City councillors indicated unanimous support for the event through their comments.

“Spending $55,000 to get something like this in Yellowknife would be a deal worth 10 times the price,” Coun. Steve Payne said. “Usually I’m a bit conservative, but for something like this I think that this is one of the best things that will have happened to us in a lot of years when it comes to national exposure.”

Coun. Rommel Silverio said he is “very pumped” at the prospect but asked if administration and city workers would be able to spare the work time without compromising on other city tasks.

According to city administration, there would be approximately 1,200 hours of working time dedicated to the event, which would primarily come from the department of community services.

“Pending council’s approval for this, we would lay out a work plan which would enable us to take a planned approach to this and ensuring that we’re not inadvertently impacting existing work,” said senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett.

There would also be a local organizing committee handling logistics and an additional 250 volunteers for the four days. The Yellowknife Minor Hockey Association is supporting the initiative and providing volunteers.

The structure of the organizing committee is yet to be determined, according to Grant White, director of community services. It may be an ad-hoc community council, or simply volunteer-based.

“As soon as the agreement is signed, our work will start,” White said. “That estimate of time will begin next month and continue into February of next year.”

The event would require 253 hotel rooms, which according to administration, are already tentatively booked.

City council’s vote on the matter is scheduled for April 8.

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