It’s become very similar to placing a bid to host the Olympics. Canadian cities Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto have rolled up their sleeves and pulled out all the stops to enhance their final proposals to become the lone Canadian hub city to host the 2020 NHL playoffs. With a decision due as early as Thursday, the bidding to become Canada’s host city for the NHL playoffs has become a supreme battle, similar to the quest to win the Stanley Cup.
This week the NHL reduced the candidate cities to six remaining cities, as Pittsburgh, Columbus, Dallas and St. Paul were officially eliminated from contention. The six cities that remain under consideration to host the tournament include Las Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The NHL has made it widely known that they would like one of the hub cities to be in Canada.
According to the Globe and Mail, Edmonton’s splashy proposal includes creating an Olympic-style village in the downtown core around Rogers Place. All of the players would stay in the 22-storey JW Marriott hotel, which is attached to the arena by a pedway. Basketball courts, golf simulators, movie nights, ping pong and pool tables, and video games are among the promised amenities.
Alberta Tourism officials created a video to help Edmonton with its bid. It is worthy to note that the promotional film shows the Columbia Icefield, Lake Louise, streams, waterfalls and other lovely sights in the Rockies – but not Edmonton itself, other than a quick scan of the skyline. All of those places are spectacular, but a minimum of four hours travel from Edmonton.
Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney has also been lobbying hard down the stretch. On Monday he released a promotional video on his Twitter page.
We look forward to welcoming the league and players here to Alberta to take in the beautiful province we have to offer. pic.twitter.com/kp0iN86vCP
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) June 22, 2020
Not to be outdone, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is promising a 16-hectarecampus where players and staff would live on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The design provides access to a host of facilities, including the Coca-Cola Coliseum, which is home to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, the Raptors’ practice facility and Hotel X, a resort on Lake Ontario with more than 400 rooms.
The city has experience hosting multiple teams for a tournament after staging the 2016 World Cup of Hockey — when it housed eight teams and their equipment. Toronto is also in the Eastern time zone, which would provide the league an expanded day for games when combined with a Western time zone hub.
On the downside, as of Sunday afternoon, the City of Toronto had tallied nearly 14,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,000 deaths, which are very high numbers by Canada’s standards, although it’s not clear how much that has an affect on players inside the bubble.
In its bid, Vancouver heavily relies on its history of success in hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. British Columbia Premier John Horgan wrote a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on the city’s behalf. Both Edmonton and Vancouver stressed their relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan wrote a letter to Bettman pitching the province to be selected as a “hub city.”
“It is our firm belief that British Columbia is the ideal location to host the resumption of NHL games,” Horgan wrote. “Having hosted two World Junior Championships and the 2010 Winter Olympics places our region in the unique position of having the infrastructure needed to effectively host NHL hockey.
Late Tuesday night reports began to surface that Vancouver looked to be one of the two hub cities, with several reports even stating that teams had already begun to book hotel reservations. However, on Wednesday things seemed to turn 180 degrees on Vancouver.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston joined Brendan Batchelor and Jamie Dodd to discuss the possibility of Vancouver being a hub city and how the progress seemed to completely halt in the last 24 hours. Johnston reported that “the momentum has completely stopped.”
The NHL reportedly still considers Las Vegas a hub-city front-runner due to the scope and security of a bubble that massive MGM Resorts can provide around T-Mobile Arena. Los Angeles and Chicago are the other hub-city candidates in the U.S.
A decision on the final hub city could be announced anytime.
The NHL is set to open training camps for three weeks (two in the club’s city and one in the hub city) beginning July 10 and the season is reportedly set to resume on July 31.