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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
So, according to a multitude of sources led by TSN’s lead insider Bob McKenzie, Edmonton and Toronto have won the bid to be one of the NHL’s two Hub Cities.
On Canada Day, it was finally decided — but not announced or ratified by the NHL and NHLPA with a signed deal — to play host to as many as three Stanley Cup playoff games per day.
During my coverage in which I maintained the city was the only hub bid that checked all the boxes, anybody who watched this go down has to temper the trumpeting. It was pretty obvious the NHL wanted to go to both Vancouver and Vegas before Edmonton.
Vancouver took itself out of the race because Dr. Bonnie Henry couldn’t agree to the conditions involved in continuing to play if there were positive tests for the coronavirus during the tournament.
And COVID-19 made the final decision with Vegas and the escalating numbers and number of hotel employees that tested positive as the casinos reopened.
Clearly, the league settled on less sexy Edmonton instead of Vegas and Vancouver.
As for Toronto, with the totally revamped bid to move the epicenter of their hub away from the arena area and to the CNE grounds and the non safety factors such as being home to rights holding TV networks, NHL war room, NHL office, etc., there’s just too much to be known in the details to make a true evaluation.
But one thing is obvious.
There were two remaining Canadian Hub Cities bids. And at this point none of the American bid cities could remotely be considered as safe. So ‘Oh Canada.’
While we wait for the dozens of details involved, now what? Start lobbying for which Hub City should hold the Stanley Cup Final?
Hand each of the 12 Western Conference teams a key to one of the dressing rooms at Rogers Place and head to your respective fan caves and spend the summer watching the games like everybody else around the hockey world?
During this process I attempted to explain ‘why in the world has Edmonton been so determined to become one of the two so-called Hub Cities? To many people it is mystifying why a city would bother to bid for a sports event that nobody is going to be able to attend.
Today, while we await the details, consider the other side of the full court press led by Oilers Entertainment Group executives Tim Shipton and Stuart Ballantyne to secure the behind closed door games.
Now that the city has all but been officially announced as a hub, what is Edmonton going to do with it?
The Edmonton bid executives aren’t going to let the fact there wont be fans in the stands or interaction with the players mean that getting the bid is the end of it.
The idea is that you don’t have to have fans in the stands for a hockey city to embrace an event like this.
The concept would be to build a scene like you’d experience at a FIFA World Cup in any of the host cities — or at least to encourage the city to embrace it like it has for every other ‘Welcome The World’ event held here.
Edmonton in the summer is a festival city and this year all those festivals have been cancelled. But with proper social distancing, you can have a hockey festival.
It’s going to be fun to see what Edmonton can create.
Imagine big screen video boards erected around town and fans watching games in their cars Drive-In Movie style with Dog & Suds style car hops delivering food and beverages. Imagine, with loosened restrictions on capacity of customers in bars, the scenes in local bars?
That’s where they believed there would be a big benefit of the NHL doing it in a hockey mad market and showcasing that passion would be.
People here are so starved for hockey and the Edmonton organizers were convinced if they won it bid, it wouldn’t be all Oilers. With all the other teams here they thought it would be a very special for all the players of all the teams to experience at least a slice of the passion of this fan base.
It’ll be frustrating to have the Oilers playing Stanley Cup playoffs here and fans not to be able to create their usual scene in the arena. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find ways to make it memorable.
They have been waiting with hopes of exploring the opportunity, in conversation with the Province of Alberta, about what they might be able to do should Edmonton be chosen to be a hub city.
When things open up a little bit with proper social distancing you can foresee fans in Ice District, can you foresee activations on that Baccarat Casino lot and activations around the city.
I think the fans would embrace this. Edmonton gets behind major events like no other city. Sure having the Oilers involved would be a big part of it but I think having all the other teams involved would be a big part of it, too. It will be a celebration of hockey.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020