Rockets want partners for Cup bid

Bruce Hamilton wants to bring the Memorial Cup back to Kelowna in 2013.

If the bid is to be successful, Kelowna Rockets president and GM believes the Western Hockey League team can’t be the only party shouldering the cost.

“What I want is that when we go to bid on major events now, then we can have some partners,” said Hamilton. “It shouldn’t be just us taking all the risks because there’s a lot of people sharing in the returns. We want other people to be involved with us.”

Hamilton made the comment this week after the team unveiled the results of a UBC Okanagan study on the economic and social impact of the Rockets on the Central Okanagan.

The study found the WHL team generates more than $30 million annually for the local economy.

In recognition of such spinoffs, Hamilton is looking for economic support from potential partners like the City of Kelowna, and R.G. Properties, the owners of Prospera Place.

To be in the running for the 2013 Memorial Cup, Hamilton said the Rockets home arena will need some upgrading.

At just over 6,000 seats, Hamilton said Prospera is on the borderline of being too small to generate enough revenue to at least break even.

Part of the bid process to host the Memorial Cup involves a guaranteed return to the Western Hockey League.

In 2004, the Rockets guaranteed and returned $1 million. Any shortfall would have had to come out of the team’s pocket.

“The size of our building is a problem,” he said. “The cost of the tickets to get to the numbers you have to achieve would be a challenge.

“The dressing rooms are an issue, the press box is an issue. Other than that it runs very well, it’s 11 years old, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just adding some things, getting to a point where you can host some bigger events still. In the end, it’s all based on TV.”

Hamilton said an improved Prospera Place would give Kelowna a better chance of hosting major sporting and entertainment events in the future.

The Rockets GM has tried several times to bring the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game to the Okanagan, but has so far been unsuccessful.

Kelowna Capital News

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