The countdown is on to the national junior A hockey championship, the 2013 RBC Cup, taking place May 11 to 19 at Summerside’s Credit Union Place and being hosted by the city’s Maritime Hockey League team, the Summerside Western Capitals.
It’s an event that organizers have spent almost two years preparing for and one that is expected to generate millions of dollars in economic spinoffs for the city, said JP Desrosiers, Summerside’s events development officer.
Desrosiers said the city’s history in hosting national and international sporting events, coupled with its multi-million dollar recreation complex, were big contributing factors in securing the event.
“Primarily it comes down to the facility. We probably have one of the nicest junior A (hockey) facilities in all the country. It gives us the opportunity to bring the event to another level,” he said. “The fact that we had a strong hosting history with not only the RBC but lots of other great sporting events back to the ‘80s until now helped. We also have a strong relationship with Hockey Canada. Those things together bring a nice package to the table.”
The host Capitals were ranked fourth in the country in their division at the end of the regular season, something not lost on this year’s RBC Cup organizers.
“Hockey Canada was confident in our host team and that they would put the investment in to make sure they had a strong team this year,” said Desrosiers. “Obviously, they did that.”
A total of 127 teams in 10 leagues are vying for one of four spots — the fifth spot goes to the host Capitals — in the 10-day tournament for the national championship.
When the event was last hosted in Summerside in 1997, the Capitals — considered underdogs in the tournament — surprised everyone by winning the cup before a capacity hometown crowd at the now-fallen Cahill Stadium.
The economic boon to the city, during what’s traditionally a slow time of year for businesses and venues, will be substantial, said Desrosiers.
“With the 2013 RBC Cup, Hockey Canada has agreed to do a Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance economic assessment model here and do a full assessment of the event. It’s expected that the event is going to bring in somewhere between $3.8 million and $4 million in economic spinoffs,” he noted. “That’s the ultimate goal of all these events we host — to bring an economic impact to the community.”
There will be no shortage of high-calibre hockey with two games a day leading up to the big game, which will be televised live on TSN from Eastlink Arena on May 19.
“Hopefully, the Western Capitals will be playing in it,” said Desrosiers. “Through the 10-day tournament we are expecting somewhere around 25,000 tickets to roll through the building. We are expecting a huge contingent of family and friends visiting from the opposing teams.”
Already, local hotels are booked “solid” with “somewhere around 3,000 room nights” expected to be booked during the 10-day tournament, he added.
“It’s certainly going to be a big event for the city.”
The final roster has yet to be determined, with playoffs taking place across the country in the 10 leagues vying for one of the four spots.
For the organizing committee, staff at Credit Union Place and a pool of 75 volunteers, who will help carry out the event, the next several weeks will be spent ensuring that, come May 11, all things are in place for a successful event.
“Right now it’s sort of the calm before the storm. We have all of our plans in place, logistical items in place and we are kind of waiting to implement them,” said Desrosiers. “We’ve got a great host committee with about 40 people. Many hands make light work, for sure.”
Tickets for the 2013 RBC Cup are currently on sale at cupevents.ca.