Will RB Cup be in Lloydminster?

RICHARD WRIGHT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

FORT McMURRAY -- The community of Lloydminster knows how to treat this country's aging, yet not-so-old, hockey stars.

Twice in the past six years it has done one heckuva job in hosting the Allan Cup national senior men's championships - The last time being just two years ago. Now it wants the chance to throw a party for the next generation.

If all goes well, the hometown Bobcats will have an automatic berth at the 2009 Royal Bank Cup national junior A championships thanks to a bid recently put forth by the team and community leaders.

It marks the second time the franchise has asked permission to make Alberta's bid. The first request, for the 2008 tournament, came last year and was turned down in favour of a bid from the Camrose Kodiaks, who eventually lost to Cornwall, Ont.

THE INITIAL PITCH

Making the initial pitch for the annual tournament is the easiest portion of the selection process. Having everything the Canadian Junior A Hockey League and Hockey Canada wants from its hosts is sometimes more difficult.

The Bobcats know this and are in the midst of dressing up their community and rink to prove they have all the tools.

"The committees are really starting to form," said director of marketing and promotions Mark Hallam.

To start, a team must make sure there is a minimum of 2,000 seats for fans to park their rears in. Right now the Centennial Civic Centre Arena holds about 1,800 fans. History has proven this can be sidestepped by creative counting, however. Fort McMurray won the right to host the 2000 RBC despite not having the requisite number of seats. It's no secret now: organizers of that tournament simply fudged the numbers.

RINK RENOVATIONS

Lloydminster also has ongoing and future renovations to its rink to count on. Bucket seats went in this summer and blueprints have been drawn for a complete overhaul of the north end. Increased space in the lobby, press box and front offices will come about from those construction plans.

Other requirements include population, which Lloydminster has, and a proven ability to pull off big sporting events. Lloydminster has that, too. Senior hockey might not get the publicity junior hockey does - except, of course, when Theoren Fleury shows up in a Horse Lake Thunder uniform - but for those in the know, the Allan Cup is a top-notch tournament.

Hallam, who played in the 2005 Allan Cup, says if the Bobcats' bid is turned down, it won't be for a lack of trying.

"We are very serious this year," he said, noting that going up against Camrose last year was a bit of a stretch. "We will have a lot of the same people (who helped organize the Allan Cup) involved."

The last time Alberta hosted the Royal Bank Cup was three years ago in Grande Prairie.

As far as Lloydminster's competition for this bid, the only name being thrown out is North Battleford, Sask.


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