From tension to arena upgrades: Kelowna Rockets announce bid to host Memorial Cup | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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From tension to arena upgrades: Kelowna Rockets announce bid to host Memorial Cup

Kelowna Rocket Tij Iginla celebrates a goal.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kelowna Rockets/Steve Dunsmoor

After a long period of tension between Prospera Place’s operator and the City of Kelowna, the Kelowna Rockets have announced they intend to put in a bid to host the Memorial Cup in 2026.

Kelowna’s Prospera Place arena had fallen into disrepair when it was once the best arena in Western Canada, and now the venue is getting the upgrades needed to host a Memorial Cup.

The City of Kelowna, the Kelowna Rockets and the arena’s operator GSL Group had a series of miscommunications and disagreements about the state of the arena. Now the tensions appear to have been mostly resolved and Prospera Place is getting ready to host big events and tournaments once again.

The Kelowna Rockets announced in a media release today, June 13, the team plans on putting in a bid to host the 2026 Memorial Cup.

“We are very excited to submit the Kelowna Rockets organization as a host for the 2026 Memorial Cup, along with the tremendous support and commitment from the City of Kelowna as our partner in this bid,” Rockets’ president and general manager Bruce Hamilton said in the release.

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If the bid is successful, it would be the first time Kelowna has hosted the ten-day tournament since 2004. Kelowna was going to host the cup in 2020 but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“Today’s exciting announcement showcases the strong partnership between the Kelowna Rockets and the City of Kelowna to ensure a successful bid to host the 2026 Memorial Cup," Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas said in the release.

"We are committed to investing in the necessary legacy capital improvements to Prospera Place to ensure they comply with both WHL and CHL standard. These enhancements will benefit the community as we continue to host future large-scale events and commit to working alongside GSL to ensure a successful bid.”

The arena had leaky ceilings, an outdated scoreboard and poor seating, but GSL and the city have committed to getting it ready for the Memorial Cup.

READ MORE: New proposal for Prospera Place upgrades blown off by Kelowna’s mayor

“The WHL is thrilled the Kelowna Rockets and the City of Kelowna will submit a bid to host the 2026 Memorial Cup,” WHL commissioner Dan Near said in the release.

“The Rockets are one of the premiere franchises in Canadian Major Junior hockey and they have a Memorial Cup title and four WHL Championships to prove it. The commitment from the Hamilton family and the City of Kelowna is to be commended as they seek to bring the crown jewel event of Major Junior hockey to the Okanagan region.”

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