The Kamloops vs. Kelowna rivalry faces off in bid for Memorial Cup 2020 - InfoNews

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The Kamloops vs. Kelowna rivalry faces off in bid for Memorial Cup 2020

Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets face off in a March 2016 game.
April 26, 2018 - 8:00 PM

It’s a rivalry that’s been prominent in B.C.’s Interior for years, and it's Kamloops vs. Kelowna again in the bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament.

Both the Kamloops Blazers and the Kelowna Rockets have expressed their interest in hosting the Canadian Hockey League's signature tournament. It’s been 14 years since the Memorial Cup was hosted and won by Kelowna, and 23 years since the Blazers hosted and won the tournament in 1995.

Although the rivalry is alive and well, Kamloops Blazers president and chief operating officer Don Moores says the team and the city are focused on making their bid the best it can be, and not worrying about bids from other cities.

"What we always try and focus on is what we do. We have a very strong bid committee," Moores says. "We're proud to be called the tournament capital centre of Canada. For us, it's about trying to stay focused on what we do and how we do it.”

Victoria also appears to be bidding for the 2020 tournament, and they'll each have to submit their official bids by June 1 to be considered.

Moores says there's a three-prong component to the bidding process, which consists of community involvement, the quality of the hockey team and the amount of money each city is prepared to put forward.

"We obviously would like to have the Memorial Cup and so would Kelowna," Moores says. "They're obviously great rivals of ours and they’ve had a great hockey team."

It's not just hockey, either. Kamloops may be the Tournament Capital Centre of Canada, but Kelowna is also eyeing a larger piece of that pie for itself. A Community Sport Plan presented last month has a goal of adding sports tourism and wants Kelowna to "be recognized as the premier sport event destination in Western Canada."

That goal includes focusing on creating increased exposure for the city, recruiting and training volunteers, and creating tools to measure the economic impact for future and current events.

Moores says with the time of year and the city's location, Kamloops would be the ideal spot for the Memorial Cup tournament. He points out that the May long weekend is when the Memorial Cup takes place, which means tourists are already in the city enjoying the weather and water sports among other things, and can go to watch a few hockey games if they'd like to as well.

The last time Kamloops hosted the tournament, Moores says, other Interior cities including Kelowna didn't have the facility necessary to host. If the city succeeds in this year's bid, the tournament would take place on the 25th anniversary of when the Blazers last won the Memorial Cup.

Since November, the Blazers and the City of Kamloops have been putting the bid together to submit for review. 

The Kelowna Rockets announced its intentions to bid Cup last week.

"We feel that it has been a long time... since we have had the privilege to host the Memorial Cup. From our perspective it's a great opportunity for our organization and for our city," Rockets owner, president, and general manager Bruce Hamilton says in a news release. "From a hockey standpoint we feel very confident that we will have an extremely competitive team, and we will be in it to win the tournament. We feel that our fans deserve the opportunity to host this event again. The last time we hosted, we changed the course of the Memorial Cup and turned it into a festival. We know our city will do an even bigger and better job this time around."

Hamilton was not available for an interview before publication deadline.

The Rockets, Blazers and other competing cities will present the bid at the annual governors meeting in October.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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