Knights, Sting Cup contenders

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

The London Knights are on the short list to play host to the 2008 Memorial Cup.

The Knights are one of five teams that will make formal, in-person presentations to the Ontario Hockey League site selection committee April 18.

The list didn't hold any surprises. The OHL said yesterday the Knights, Kitchener Rangers, Oshawa Generals, Saginaw Spirit and Sarnia Sting have been tagged to make presentations. The Kingston Frontenacs also applied, but they didn't make the cut.

The Frontenacs are having arena issues. Even though the construction of an new arena has started, there is a political battle going on about whether it should continue.

"I would have been surprised and very disappointed if we had not been selected," said Trevor Whiffen, the Knights governor and the man heading the bid. "I feel badly for Kingston because I know they put a lot of hard work into the bid."

The selection committee includes Paul Beeston, former chief executive of Major League Baseball; Frank Bonello, former director of Central Scouting for the National Hockey League; Brian O'Neill, an NHL consultant; and Jim Gregory, the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations.

London staged the Memorial Cup in 2005. Whiffen said the presentation will have different components than the one made in 2004.

"We still have to finalize the bid work and what the theme is going to be. It's a work in progress," he said.

Whiffen said the financial guarantee is one thing that will have to be discussed but if the 2004 bid is an indicator, a decision on what that number will be likely won't be made until a few days before the actual presentation. In 2004, the guarantee was $1.1 million and the actual return to the OHL was more than $1.4 million.

"We have to come to grips with what the bid is going to be," Whiffen said. "The budget looks healthy but once you make the decision you have to live with it. You have to be comfortable with what it is."

Whiffen said the framework of the presentation will be the same as 2004. Five people are allowed to speak during the presentation with a sixth person available to handle the technical aspect of the bid.

Whiffen said preliminary plans have him speaking about the overall bid; London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best speaking about the city; Paul Hardy with Tourism London will speak to the infrastructure and Knights general manager Mark Hunter will talk about the makeup of the hockey team. No decision has been made on the fifth member of the team. The winning bid will be announced sometime during the week of May 7.


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