Big game will be played at bigger venue

Kenn Oliver
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C.B.S. is Hockeyville, but circumstances mean NHL exhibition contest will be played at Mile One

Conception Bay South Mayor Woodrow French says request for tickets to attend the Hockeyville game have been coming from all over the province, and even outside of it.- Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Ever since April, when Conception Bay South was named Kraft Hockeyville and host of an NHL exhibition game this fall, mayor Woody French says inquiries about the town's plans for the event came in non-stop.

"When you talk to councillors, staff, and members of the (Kraft Hockeyville) committee, they'll tell you it's been constant," the mayor says about the flow of questions about where the NHL pre-season game will be held, how tickets would be dispersed and when said tickets would be available.

Following a press conference at Robert French Memorial Stadium Wednesday morning, an answer at least one of those queries can be provided.

The pre-season contest between the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets - the parent team to the new AHL franchise in St. John's - will go ahead at Mile One Centre in St. John's on Sept. 26.

"If the game was held here at the (Robert French) Stadium, we could only hold about 600 people after all the game and television equipment was put in place," says the mayor.

"Nobody's going to let their child come to a hockey game unaccompanied, so it would have been difficult for us."

While the game will go ahead in the capital city, the rest of the celebrations scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25 will take place in Hockeyville proper at the Stadium.

"The game is only part of it, the rest of it has to work around how the kids are going to benefit from this," French says, referring to skill clinics being offered by NHL players and coaches, an alumni game, and a visit from the Stanley Cup.

Terry French, the provincial minister of recreation and the MHA for C.B.S., was on hand for Wednesday's announcement and says while he's disappointed the game won't be played in the town stadium named in his father's memory, it makes more sense to move the game to downtown St. John's.

"The reality is that the right place to have it as Mile One so we can accommodate all the kids involved who deserve to see the game."

Moving the game to Mile One allows event organizers to provide ten times the number of tickets.

It also allows the town to put the $100,000 prize money from Kraft Canada directly towards improving the stadium for the benefit of its primary users rather than being forced to spend it on upgrades necessary to host an NHL game.

Following the April 2 announcement that C.B.S. had won the nation-wide Hockeyville competition, the NHL sent a team of 17 experts to C.B.S. to assess the rink. Their findings: Before the rink would be approved for a preseason contest, the length of the ice surface would have to be extended by up to 10 feet, meaning walls would have to be knocked down

Instead, C.B.S. will use the prize money to purchase a new dehumidifier, install taller glass around the boards and build a new Kraft Hockeyville dressing room on to the side of the existing structure.

"The facilities we've got here now are 35-years-old so you can imagine the condition they're in," the mayor explains. "This one will be an up-to-date room that'll be used by our minor hockey people, our women's hockey league, the Renegades (all-star hockey teams), and figure skating."

As for tickets, organizers will unveil their distribution plan in conjunction with a more complete schedule of events later this summer.

The mayor says requests have been coming from all over, and not just here on the island.

"I sit on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and I've been to meetings and people have asked me, 'those tickets for Hockeyville, any chance of getting a couple?'"

But mayor French wants to assure the residents they'll be given priority when it comes to tickets because, after all, "C.B.S. is Hockeyville." Twitter@KOTelySports


Organizations: NHL, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets Kraft Canada Renegades Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Geographic location: St. John's, Robert French Memorial Stadium

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Recent comments

  • M
    July 14, 2011 - 22:02

    Why do figure skaters keep being brought up, isn´t it hockeyville??? Hockey players only should get tickets! Agree with Turry, give CBS the 600 tickets they would of got if they played in their home rink and the rest should be given out to the rest of the people of NL. I dont think the 20,000 of CBS was enought votes to win the contest.

  • Political Watcher
    July 14, 2011 - 14:38

    Come on Woody and wipe the egg off your face. You are first to critize St. John's yet now that you need them to save face you take full advantage. I bet St. John's can run a two hole s*%t house and maybe a three. The new arena should have been a priority and not your travel. For someone who alledges to hate Air Canada you sure lke flying with them enough.

  • C.B.S. Resident
    July 14, 2011 - 13:47

    The town of C.B.S. has made an awesome decision to move the game to Mile One. Not only will more C.B.S. residents have an opportunity to see the game, but other Newfoundlander s as well. You will not please everyone!! Ticket distribution is going to be tricky! C.B.S. has 20, 000 residents. Children should come first, along with one chaperone. Congrats to C.B.S. !!!

  • Steve French
    July 14, 2011 - 11:43

    Once again, the little leeches in the metro are depend on st johns once again to get them out of a jam. Keep your game, we 40 of our own anyways.

  • JimFromWpg
    July 14, 2011 - 10:37


    • kIM
      July 14, 2011 - 12:48

      I agree the people of CBS should get first dibs at tickets, but you have to remember the votes to make CBS "Kraft Hockeyville" cames from Newfoundlanders all over the island and I am sure throughout the whole country. I voted numerous times and I am in St. John's. I think there should be a 1 or 2 day "sale" for CBS residents with a limit of 4 tickets per person. Then open to the rest of the province. Just my opinion!

  • james
    July 14, 2011 - 10:15

    should not be allowed to change venue should go to runner up , cbs win it and playes the game in an other town not fair to other communities in this country

    • Doug from AB
      July 14, 2011 - 12:04

      Get a life James. They could blow the whole $100K on bringing the ice surface and boards up to NHL spec. That would be a total waste. Likely no different for any of the other communities that participated in the contest. They would spend the money doing the same upgrades and the facility as a whole would not benifit. Playing the game in St. John's will allow more fans to take in the game and allow the prize money to be spent as it was intendend.

  • Turry from town
    July 14, 2011 - 09:07

    No John, 600 tickets should go to CBS first,then the remaining should be first come first served.

  • John Saunders
    July 14, 2011 - 07:57

    The ticket distribution should be all organization kids, minor hockey, figure skating, high school hockey be provided with 2 tickets each and then the rest distributed in a random draw for the town.

    • John
      July 17, 2011 - 21:23

      Yes, Political watcher, you are right. Woody and all the gang want everything FREE of charge. I wonder how much they are planning to give the City of St. John;s for use of Mile One. Probably nothing the way things work in NL. Isn't it great when you can live in one place, pay basically nothing in taxes, drive in and out of St. John;s for free, drive over their streets for free, use their toilets, drinking fountains and everything else for free. Oh, yes they will all tell you they HATE St. John;s. Well if you hate it, do everyone a FAVOUR and KEEP OUT!!!!!!