Bid aims for $10M profit

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

London will try to guarantee a $10-million profit to Hockey Canada to bring the 2009 world junior hockey tournament here, the city's sports tourism boss said yesterday.

With that figure, London would be competitive with six other centres also expected to bid: Calgary/Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saskatoon and Toronto.

Three years ago when London bid for the 2006 event, it guaranteed $4.6 million.

"We're going through the documents to see what the requirements are," sports tourism manager Paul Hardy said. "I think we are looking in the range of a $10-million profit."

Hardy said that would put the bid -- being prepared by Tourism London at the request of the city's board of control -- in line with others.

"Having done the Memorial Cup . . . now we have good, hard figures. Going through the budget of the Memorial Cup and plugging (the figures in), we're looking at around $5- or $6-million in expenses."

Those numbers may change, Hardy said. But if governments and corporate sponsorships come through with funding as hoped, he believes the $10- million figure is reachable.

Most of the money would come from ticket sales. Three years ago, price for the 20-game package to support London's bid was $795. A main ticket package this time would be about $1,100.

Before the bid deadline, there will likely be a preliminary ticket sale to gauge local interest. The bid would then go before city council. While taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for the entire guarantee to Hockey Canada, they would have to make up any shortfall.

Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell was surprised to hear the guarantee may be as high as it is. He doesn't support the city's involvement in the bid.

"I'll take a look at the business plan, but I'm kind of skeptical," he said.

"Vancouver used two major venues and came up with $9 million profit," Gosnell said. "How can we guarantee any more? With the money involved, it's obvious Hockey Canada wants this to be a big-city event.

"They like the exposure. They'll use cities like London to drive the price up."

The bid proposal for the 2006 event cost Kitchener and London about $60,000. This time, it would be less expensive because Hockey Canada accepts bids electronically.

London mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said she's working on corporate partners to garner support for the bid.

"My view is that we explore all possibilities," she said. "But if the numbers don't work, we don't bid."

And if the numbers work, DeCicco said it would be a good opportunity for Hockey Canada to show it truly did support the tournament coming to communities London's size.

Hardy said his first priority is finding a community they can partner with. Three years ago, Kitchener agreed to take 11 tournament games.

"We have nothing confirmed yet," Hardy said. "We've gone back to Kitchener and Guelph and are having discussions with them . . . If we can't find a partner, it would be almost impossible for us to continue," he said. "We're hoping to hear something by the end of next week at the latest."

The bid must be in Hockey Canada's hands by March 31.


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