Victoria will pay the funds needed to support potentially hosting Hockey Day in Canada next January after the event was pitched to the capital city.
Council on May 11 approved spending up to $200,000 from its contingency budget on Rogers Sportsnet’s nationally televised event. Half of that will go to the cash contribution associated with sponsoring Hockey Day in Canada, while $60,000 – or up to $100,000 if needed – will cover the costs of using city equipment (bleachers, staging, etc.) and the lost parking revenue during the event.
No formal decisions have been made in regards to next year’s Hockey Day in Canada location, a spokesperson for Rogers Sports and Media told Black Press Media on Monday.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Marianne Alto said the city’s attractions are getting more and more diverse and Hockey Day in Canada would be another example of how the capital can be a part of something really exciting.
“It’s yet another opportunity to showcase the city and how incredibly interesting and beautiful it is,” Alto said in an interview.
The event would bring a week of festivities to the city, with Ship Point hosting concerts, food vendors, visits with the Stanley Cup and NHL alumni and more.
It would also bring a synthetic ice rink to the harbourfront area and the mayor said it would be a unique sight with outdoor hockey in the mild-wintered city. Alto added the week would culminate in a 14-hour broadcast reaching 10 million viewers nationwide, which would be a boon for Victoria with the festivities backdropped by the ocean, the Empress, the legislature and more of downtown.
“That for us at the city is an opportunity to really draw people here at other times as well for them to get a glimpse of what a fantastic area it is to visit,” Alto said.
Several councillors agreed the funding would be a bargain considering the level of notoriety the event would produce for the city.
While people don’t associate Victoria with winter sports, the mayor said the event would highlight Victoria’s intertwined history with the Stanley Cup, including winning the prized trophy nearly a century ago.
HDIC will also profile the role of Lester and Frank Patrick’s family in growing hockey in B.C. and beyond. The brothers built the first artificial ice rinks in Canada and at one point had the Stanley Cup withheld from their championship-winning Victoria squad.
“That has a really interesting legacy piece for us where we can talk about the history of that here,” Alto said.
The city would also collaborate with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to incorporate their stories into the event.
Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean highlighted that acknowledgement in a video pitching Victoria as the host city.
“Tremendous anticipation for all of us as we prepare to gather on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen-speaking Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. That’s going to be a huge influence on the broadcast in 2024 in Greater Victoria. They have a saying in the Indigenous community that when an elder dies a library burns, and we’re going to try and provide some of these beautiful stories,” MacLean said.
“It will be 13-plus hours of the great love affair between a country and a game in Victoria, looking forward to seeing you.”