Securing an event like the Centennial Cup all comes down to people.
That was Fred Harbinson, the Penticton Vees head coach, president and general manager’s take on what it took to get the May 2021 event at a press conference Monday.
“This process was a lot different than any of us had imagined but you can’t secure or even go after this type of event without the partnerships we have all created,” said Harbinson in a news release. “Our outstanding ownership, with the Frasers, and the South Okanagan Events Centre along with the City of Penticton made this all possible.
“There were a lot of different factors that went into how we secured this event but it starts with our ownership and runs through the great people that work with Spectra that run this facility and of course, the support from the city has been outstanding and I think that is what put us over the top.”
He added while there are normally two or three communities bidding to host the national junior A hockey tournament, this time around there were nine applications.
“Everyone involved did an outstanding job of putting the bid together but it really comes down to our fans,” said majority owner Graham Fraser in the release. “No other team in Canada can average over 3,100 fans a season and the fans that are in the building get into the game and love hockey. The fans come out year after year to support the players and support our team and I think that is why Hockey Canada chose us to host this tournament.”
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki added the news of the city’s selection to host the Centennial Cup was exciting news for the entire city.
The process began last February with a letter of interest from the Vees to Hockey Canada and the B.C. Hockey League.
From there the number was whittled down to four communities and according to Harbinson, it was at training camp this year the team got an inkling it would be selected and began negotiations on a contract with the city, the South Okanagan Events Centre and Hockey Canada.
Announcement of Penticton’s bid to host the tournament was made Friday night.
“There’s a lot of different things but I think the biggest is the people,” Harbinson said. “Our ownership has always given us the ability to be in contention hockey wise and consistently be in the battle for the last 13 years. Another thing was next season being our 60th anniversary as a junior hockey team.
“It’s amazing to talk about the history of different programs and how it all started. Sixty years of junior hockey is exciting and we get to celebrate that big anniversary with a special tournament that we’ve never been able to host before.”
Ticket sales are next on the agenda and Harbinson said that next February, part of the season ticket renewal package includes getting first rights to Centennial Cup tickets.
“There’s been a lot of big games in this building and you can look ahead to May 2021 and think about our team playing in that final game, it will be hard to get a ticket in here,” he said. “The Vees organization, along with the SOEC and the City of Penticton, look forward to working with Hockey Canada in order to host the best Centennial Cup to date.”
Further ticketing details will be released at a later date with a formal announcement from Hockey Canada expected in the next few weeks.