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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MEMORIAL CUP AWARDED TO LONDON....AGAIN


It's not exactly breaking news.   London got awarded it's second Memorial Cup in the last four Ontario bids.  What could have been a competitive bidding process became something of an inevitability as the awarding of the event came closer and closer.   No secret that London, and its solid facilities and great support of junior hockey played a role, but it also is no secret that the almighty dollar guarantee played a significant role in this decision.   Followers of university basketball will empathize with the current plight of the Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires who were the two competitors for London in the recent round of Memorial Cup bids.  

 You see for upwards of a quarter century the fine city of Halifax had a stranglehold on men's university basketball's Final Eight Tournament.  No doubt that the city did a tremendous job in hosting the tournament, often packing the place when local teams played.  That said elite basketball never got exposed to the rest of the country.  Sure there might of been not as many venues available, but year after Halifax bid against it self, offering the university sports body a nice return on investment.  One year Hamilton leapt into the fray and a lot of people felt that the time had come to move the tournament to Southern Ontario and at least expose the tournament to other parts of the country.  At the time Hamilton had an elite basketball university in McMaster good facilities at Copps Coliseum which had already hosted a lot of great basketball, university basketball included.  Yet for murky reasons unknown the tournament went back to Halifax where for the first time the word "stale" got tossed around.  As time passed the murky reasoning basically became defined under a financial guarantee.  At least, I think that is how it was decided.  I'm not sure eloquent feedback was the order of the day.   

The point is that don't say that you invested in growing the game when you keep going back to the hand that feeds you time and again.  Even today in the university basketball the Final 8 bounces back and forth between Ottawa and Halifax.  Hopefully another significant bid will be on the horizon. However, the bid process is an exhausting one on both political and sporting levels.  People devote a plethora of time on top of their regular job lobbying for the tournament, finding corporate support putting on bid presentations, locating the appropriate amenities and on and on  For the Memorial Cup committee to award a tournament to the same city for the second time in four bid processes is not exactly sharing the wealth and likely makes cities a little hesitant to exhaust their resources in a process with a low guarantee of success. .  

London, no doubt, will welcome the CHL with open arms and run a first class tournament with sell out crowds cheering, while the cash registers ring with equal joy, but you know what?  Other cities could have done just as good a job, but we will not get to find that out until next time around, and if you are small or mid market team it likely will be an  exercise likely born into futility, especially if the likes of London, Kitchener or Ottawa jump into the bidding pool. 

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