Vernon’s bid to host a major hockey tournament got a significant boost.
The B.C. Hockey League has endorsed Vernon’s bid to host the 2014 Royal Bank Cup Canadian Junior A championship at the Wesbild Centre.
The BCHL is the host league the Vernon Vipers play in.
“That’s a pretty big hurdle in that potentially there could have been other organizations that have done well in B.C. that could have gone against us,” said Chris Collard, local bid committee co-chairperson.
The BCHL’s endorsement means they would not support any other bid for the tournament that year by another BCHL city.
Each league – there are 10 in total – in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League is eligible to submit a bid for the 2014 tournament.
“Maybe we’ll see some other bids go against us,” said Collard, who is confident in Vernon’s ability to submit the winning bid. “I’ve talked with other leagues, they see that we’re putting a bid in and, with the success the Vipers have had, they say, ‘We know you guys. Good luck.’”
The Vipers have won four Royal Bank Cup championships, including two of the last three, and finished second in this year’s tournament in Camrose, Alta.
Vernon has won six Canadian Junior A hockey championships, the most by any franchise in the country.
The only time Vernon has hosted the Canadian championship tournament was when it was known as the Centennial Cup, in 1990, at the Civic Arena.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community,” said Collard of bringing the 2014 national finals to the Wesbild Centre. “It’s really going to showcase Vernon and the Vipers.”
The local committee will submit its bid to B.C. Hockey, the governing body of amateur hockey in the province, by Jan. 16. B.C. Hockey will have, essentially, 10 days to look over the bid and make any suggestions or recommendations, and then will send the final bid to Hockey Canada on Jan. 27.
A decision on who gets the 2014 tournament will be announced in May.
Meantime, fans can help support the bid by continuing to donate $20 cheques toward the bid committee.
“Those cheques do two things,” said Collard. “It gives us some dollars to submit with the bid, and it’s also a down payment toward a ticket package for the 2014 RBC Cup.”
The committee must send $2,500 with its bid and put up a $5,000 surety to show they have the ability to raise the funds.
Everybody who donates gets a receipt and a copy of the receipt is sent along with the bid package to show how much support there is for the event.
As well, every $20 donated to the bid gives a person a chance at some raffle prizes, including a signed Vancouver Canucks jersey by former Viper forward Aaron Volpatti, a third Vipers jersey signed by the team and two Vipers season tickets for next year.
A table is set up at the front entrance of the Wesbild Centre at every Vipers home game for a chance to donate to the bid.
If Vernon is unsuccessful in obtaining the tournament, the funds collected will be given to a Vernon charity supported by the Vipers.