As we enter Day 2 of 2014, we receive a reminder on our front page that something good can come from something bad, the proverbial silver lining in the black cloud. Today’s example comes in the form of a story about how minor hockey in Prince County is being used to fill the economic void left behind when the Summerside Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada left town, heading east for Charlottetown.
We would not argue that on paper, and as much as we may not like it and were disappointed by the decision, the move makes sense for the basketball team’s owners. But there is also no arguing that our pride was hurt. In the eyes of some we were to the NBL of Canada what Green Bay is to the NFL, and make no mistake, having a professional basketball team in Summerside was definitely a feather in the cap for the city, its residents and its leaders.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to put a financial value on the recognition our city received from having its name mentioned in sports broadcasts and on the stats pages of newspapers across eastern Canada.
It turns out, however, that filling the void left by the departure of basketball wasn’t so hard after all.
Minor hockey has moved in to help ease the potential losses for operators of the $40 million dollar facility, which is also home to the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League, and many other events including concerts and swim meets among others. But the boost from minor hockey has proven more important that many would have guessed a year ago.
The city has scheduled 16 minor hockey tournaments in place of the Storm.
Duke Cormier, president of Tourism Summerside, said the impact of the number of players, coaches, family and friends is substantial.
He said minor hockey tournaments provide a steady flow of people in and out of the city, as they stay at local accommodations and eat at local restaurants.
This model, he argues, could be stronger than its predecessor.
J.P. Desrosiers, the city's director of Community Development, said the city is on target for 67 minor sporting events in 2014. He credits Doug Dexter and the P.E.I. Minor Hockey Association for bringing minor hockey tournaments to Credit Union Place, noting they are hosting tournaments every month from November (2013) to March 2014.
Sure, some will argue having both the Storm and minor hockey would be better, but for now at least, we congratulate those that have stepped up to fill the void. Sometimes what we need we already have.