Thousands of visitors will be streaming into Chilliwack for the 2018 Royal Bank Cup in May.
So far ticket sales for the Junior A hockey championships are strong, and all the hotels in Chilliwack are fully booked May 12-20.
It’s go-time for the RBC Cup Host Organizing Committee in the final weeks before the first game.
They’re ready to welcome a huge influx of sports fans, hockey players, officials, media and tourists to town, said host committee member Allison Colthorp, who is also executive director of Tourism Chilliwack.
With five hockey teams and their supporters coming from across Canada, the week-long event will generate considerable spinoffs for Chilliwack.
So they’re going to be looking closely at the numbers.
“We will be doing an economic impact study with Hockey Canada,” said Colthorp. “We believe it’s important to see the actual stats, with the hope that we get more opportunities to host another event of this calibre.”
Studies of previous RBC Cups showed the overall economic impact was $2.8 million in Prince Edward Island, with $1.9 million for Summerside itself, the host city in 2013. A total of $3.1 million in benefits in Manitoba with $2.2 million in the City of Dauphin itself in 2010, with 2,250 overnight stays recorded.
“We have a strong host committee, this is a hockey town, and everyone is very, very supportive of this event being held in our town,” Colthorp said.
Those three elements make it more likely the event will be an easy hat trick.
So far, the 13-game packages are moving steadily, and on Wednesday, the single-game tickets went on sale.
The many outdoor adventure, fish guides, and tourism operators in Chilliwack are also lining up to get in on some of the excitement being generated from the event prep.
There’s a Visit App widget for visitors to receive information on other activities happening while they’re in Chilliwack, which will be pushed to their phones and tablets.
The provincial government chipped in $40,000 for a marketing campaign for the committee to attract Vancouverites to the RBC events.
Part of their goal is breaking the previous RBC attendance record of 36,000 people set in 2004.
“Chances are that we will break the record,” said Colthorp. They aim to fill the seats, and are working on a “give-back” program for those with tickets who can’t use them, but wish to donate them.
The organizers and all of their partners have been going at it like gang-busters since the Chilliwack committee won the bid to host the RBC Cup almost a year ago.
Reps of Tourism Chilliwack, City of Chilliwack, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe Management, Chilliwack Chiefs and local businesses worked tirelessly to engage the community. Chilliwack residents blitzed social media and business owners and community leaders wrote letters of support to be included in the bid package.
It was a big deal when Chilliwack won the chance to host.
Prospera Centre is the largest facility ever to host an RBC Cup, doubling the normal capacity of a typical arena with more than 5,000 seats in Prospera Centre. The practice rink will be the beer garden site, with lots of entertainment planned.
“Plus it’s the first time the cup is being held in the Lower Mainland, so we’ll be drawing people in from different sources,” Colthorp said.
There are 600 hotel rooms in Chilliwack, and they are almost fully booked for the event. Blocks of rooms have been booked off for the hockey teams, some of whom are still in qualifying rounds. They’ve reached out to neighbouring communities of Abbotsford, Agassiz, Harrison, Hope and more, for extra accommodations.
The host committee has a volunteer base of 150 people, with 55 volunteers working on any given day during the event.
“Because of all our partners, and volunteers, and supporters, things are coming together very smoothly,” Colthorp said.