The city will be helping the Oshawa Generals with the team’s bid to host the 2021 Memorial Cup.
City council has lent unanimous support behind the decision to help Oshawa’s OHL team in its bid to host the tournament. Previously, the city’s finance committee had referred the item back to staff, but it was brought forward again at a recent special council meeting.
Council approved $200,000 of in-kind services, and $50,000 to be added to the 2021 budget to aid in the Gens’ bid, while $110,000 will go to needed renovations at the Tribute Communities Centre.
These renovations include additional space in the press box and video replay room, which Mayor Dan Carter notes is so small, it is difficult to fit himself and Gens General Manager Roger Hunt at the same time.
Initially the Gens asked for $350,000 from the city in in-kind funds, but further correspondence saw that change to $250,000 from the city, and another $250,000 from the region.
One concern expressed by councillors at the finance committee meeting when the request was referred back to staff was the economic impact.
According to the report from staff, the estimated economic impact for the last Memorial Cup, held in 2019 in Halifax, NS, was $15 million.
The most recent tournament hosted in Ontario was in Windsor, which saw an estimated economic impact of $10- to $17 million.
However, the report does note the impact may not be as high for the next Memorial Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, due to the impact of the pandemic, Hunt tells council there is “no better time” to host an event like the Memorial Cup, as the city is recovering.
Several councillors expressed their approval at the idea of hosting the cup, with Ward 3 City Councillor Bradley Marks calling the idea “quite exciting,” and Ward 2 City Councillor Jane Hurst calling the idea “awesome.”
“I probably wouldn’t see my husband for a week,” quips Hurst.
However, both councillors still had their concerns.
One request from the team is the installation of metal detectors, and Marks asked Hunt if this was due to a requirement from the CHL, or if this was a request from the team.
Hunt says Oshawa is an area where weapons are trafficked, and the goal is to make the Tribute Communities Centre as “family friendly” as possible.
“[Shootings] unfortunately do happen,” he says.
Marks believes the installation of metal detectors will ultimately give residents peace of mind as they attend Gens games, concerts, and other events.
The other team currently bidding to host the Memorial Cup tournament is the Soo Greyhounds, and Hurst was curious what their facility looks like compared to Oshawa’s.
Hunt explains both stadiums are comparable, with the Greyhounds home ice being a few years younger.
“It’s similar to the Tribute Communities Centre in that you can see the ice from everywhere,” he says.
Ultimately, council voted to help the Gens with no resistance.