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Gens ask region for help

Memorial Cup would benefit entire region: Hunt

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

After receiving help from the City of Oshawa in their Memorial Cup bid, the Oshawa Generals have now asked the region for support.

Speaking with the Durham’s finance committee, Generals General Manager Roger Hunt asked for help, noting if Oshawa were to host the Memorial Cup, it would be a win for all of Durham Region.

“We’ve got an opportunity to bring thousands… of visitors into the region, and into the city,” he says.

He notes while Oshawa will be the “centrepiece,” it is a regional event, especially with the arrival of the cup. He adds the region is the only team in the CHL “lucky enough” to be able to use the Highway of Heroes.

“Our team here has decided what better way to show respect to those that have fallen and those that currently serve and former members of the military, but to have the Memorial Cup that was dedicated to the soldiers arrive in Durham and Oshawa on the Highway of Heroes,” says Hunt.

He acknowledges the team isn’t sure how much it would cost to police the event, but the team wants the region and the city to be 100 per cent behind them.

He also notes this isn’t the first time in recent years the Gens have come close to hosting the Memorial Cup.

“We went through this process a few years ago when it was opened up nationwide, and this year it’s down to two communities,” he says. “Sault Ste. Marie is going to get it, or Oshawa is going to get it.”

He notes while most of the events related to the tournament are going to be in Oshawa, the team plans to host the Memorial Cup Golf Tournament at Ajax’s Deer Creek Golf Club, and there are planned events at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville.

Hunt adds there will be hotels in use all the way from Salem Road in Ajax to Bowmanville.

Restaurants will also benefit, according to Hunt, as visitors will need to find a place to eat.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunt also believes this would be some welcome news for Oshawa and the rest of Durham, as the region’s recovery will be in effect.

“Let’s be honest, financially, our businesses could use it, and I think for morale, I really think our communities in this area could use this, and to have, like I said, a world class event right on our doorstep, I don’t know if this is an opportunity you want to miss,” says Hunt.

Hunt also notes the Gens’ ability to compete is important to the league, as the CHL doesn’t want to be “embarrassed” by the team hosting.

“You can bid what you want, you can have what you want, but you have to have a team that is capable of winning. The CHL does not want to be embarrassed by a team, like what happened when the Memorial Cup was won by the Oshawa Generals in 1990,” says Hunt.

He adds it was hosted by the Hamilton Dukes at the time. While the organization no longer exists, and has been replaced by the Bulldogs, Hunt says the team was “awful.”

“What [the league has] done since then, they make sure that these communities that are going to get it, they’ve got the resources to be able to do it,” he explains.

Ultimately, Hunt says the organization has lofty goals, and doesn’t want to enter the tournament as the host, but as the OHL champion.

Generals owner Rocco Tullio also spoke, reiterating that these opportunities “don’t come around very often.”

Several councillors, such as Pickering Councillor Kevin Ashe and Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster, expressed their support for the Gens’ request.

“If it benefits Oshawa, it benefits the whole region and everyone else,” says Ashe.

However, Ashe felt it was unclear what the Generals were asking for.

Hunt explains they’re asking for policing to host the event, help with potential road closures, $250,000 of in-kind funding, and a few more items.

“There’s a number of things that we would need support with,” he says, adding the organization wants to make it a “safe and secure” event.

Oshawa’s Ward 5 City and Regional Councillor Brian Nicholson eventually brought forward a motion to approve the funding request, and Ashe seconded it.

“It’s our view at the city and our community that this is going to be a fantastic event for the city,” says Nicholson.

Nicholson says he believes the event will pay back any funding “five to 10-fold.”

Ultimately, the request was passed unanimously, and will head to the next regional council meeting for final approval.