The Kamloops Blazers announced on Thursday morning that they plan to enter a bid to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. The announcement was made at a news conference during which Ken Christian, the city’s mayor, pledge complete support from the city for the bid.
The 2020 tournament will be the 25th anniversary of the last time Kamloops played host and the last time the Blazers on the Memorial Cup. That championship capped a string of three such victories in a four-year span (1992, 1994, 1995).
Norm Daley, the chairman of the Blazers’ advisory committee, is expected to be heavily involved in the Memorial Cup organizing committee, although that group hasn’t yet been put together. Daley has helped bring numerous international and national events to the city, including the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, the Canada Cup of Curling, and the Tim Hortons Brier.
The Blazers’ home arena, the Sandman Centre, is undergoing improvements, which will include the installation of LED lighting, along with new boards and glass, along with some loge seating.
The last four times the WHL has had a host team for the Memorial Cup tournament, it has been held in the east — Regina, 2018; Red Deer, 2016; Saskatoon, 2013; Brandon, 2010. It hasn’t been played in B.C. since 2007 when the Vancouver Giants were the host team.
At least two other Western Conference teams — the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals — have expressed an interest in bidding on the 2020 tournament, while there have been whispers that the Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver may also be interested.
Vancouver and Victoria will be the co-hosts for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Asked yesterday if Victoria is interested in playing host to the 2020 Memorial Cup, Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, provided Taking Note with a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”
The WHL is open to expressions of interest into March. The bidding process will take place after that, with a host city expected to be announced in October.
The 2018 tournament, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Cup, is to be held in Regina. The 2019 tournament will be held in a QMJHL centre.
Under normal circumstances, the CHL awards hosting rights on a three-year rotation, with it also going to the OHL. But because of the 2018 tournament being extra-special, it was opened to bids from all three leagues. When it was awarded Regina, it interrupted the regular rotation, something that will resume in 2019.
Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has more on the story right here.