Finals Should Be Put Out to Bid
This summer more than most seems to have a sporting flavour and particularly so for England. Recently I travelled to York for a few days. Whilst not normally a sporting hotspot and not an ice hockey city in the UK it and the surrounding areas have been transformed.
In a few weeks time York will host the biggest cycle race in the world. The Tour De France is hosting the first two stages in Yorkshire. Stage 1 from York to nearby Harrogate and Stage 2 from Leeds to Sheffield before heading south to London and then on to the ‘Hexagone’. The towns and roads of this area of Yorkshire have embraced the tour. Yellow bikes down the route whilst pubs, schools and cafes advertise parking, camping and events to welcome visitors to the race. It is something that really makes it special.
Meanwhile a few weeks ago now Canada’s biggest sporting occasion the Memorial Cup was in the city of London, Ontario. Journalists, fans and the teams involved were not just talking about the on ice events but the welcome and ‘buzz’ around the town.
In the UK there are a ice hockey events that create some of the same excitement around the town. The playoff finals in Nottingham and Coventry give that but if the honour of hosting these events and the Challenge Cup final was put out to bid perhaps a feeling more akin to that of the Memorial Cup, Tour de France and other events maybe even the Superbowl.
It is a process that could happen years before the event. In the case of the World Championships bids are tendered over 3 years in advance and this would create some publicity in the cities and in the press as well as an improvement in the offering to fans. If cities and host rinks had to think about more than just the quality of the venue but the offering to fans the overall experience would improve.
Things such as fan parks, games and autograph signings can give the fans better experience and that leads to more wanting to go and more casual supporters being lured into the sport. In total it is a win win situation for the sport and the Elite League in particular has the on ice events to make it possible.