More than 170 young hockey players and their families are getting ready to come to Quesnel for the B.C. Tier 3 PeeWee Provincial Championship Tournament, taking place March 15-20.
The 11-team tournament will see athletes from as far north as Whitehorse and as far south as Vancouver Island descend on the West Fraser Centre to represent their cities and prove their skill on the ice.
The tournament has been almost a year in the making, as event host co-chairs Mike Ernst and Jolene Hemming have worked hard planning every detail and raising the funds to make the big event a reality.
The almost-week-long tournament will not only be exciting for the local athletes taking part in it to get to compete in front of their friends and families, but it is also sure to be one of, if not the biggest events of the year in terms of bringing in out-of-town funds into the Quesnel economy. Ernst says he expects the tournament will bring around $250,000 into the local economy.
“Just crunching some numbers, we’ve got 170-plus players coming, plus their parents and maybe siblings, so just on hotel rooms, we’re estimating they’ll spend around $115,000,” said Ernst. “Then, on top of that, around another $105,000 for food, which even at 100 bucks a head per player and family member a day is nothing when you’re out of town. Then of course they are only playing one game a day, so they will be looking for other activities like a bowling ally or escape room, so when you add that cost in as well, we think it’ll be a quarter-of-a-million-dollar boost to the city.” Said Ernst.
Hemming believes that as a result of the tournament, the city may also see a boost in tourism, as many of the out-of-town families will be learning about and experiencing all that Quesnel has to offer for the first time and will spread the word as they return to their own communities.
“There is no other reason for a lot of these families to come to Quesnel, and many of them have never even heard of us, so it’s great exposure for the city,” said Hemming.
While the economic boost to the city will no doubt have a positive impact, the costs involved in putting on the tournament are expected to reach around $25,000, a large chunk of change for the Quesnel and District Minor Hockey Association (QDMHA) to come up with, says Hemming.
“We are a not-for-profit, so we don’t have a lot of cash laying around, so that has been a big struggle,” she said.
Some of the largest costs involved in hosting the tournament are the ice rentals at West Fraser Centre, which come in at around $6,500, along with referee costs, which have been estimated at $2,500, and a B.C. Hockey-mandated banquet for all attending players, coaches and referees.
To cover the costs of the tournament, the QDMHA will be having daily 50/50 draws at the rink, as well as a big cash raffle for which tickets are $100, with the grand prize being $7,000. Second prize is $2,000, and third prize is $1,000. Only 200 tickets will be sold for the cash raffle, and Ernst believes the better odds will help sell out the tickets quicker.
The QDMHA is also collecting game sponsors who, for a $250 fee, will have their signage displayed during their sponsored game, as well as their business announced over the loud speaker and information added to the tournament’s social media pages.
B.C. Hockey also allows for the QDMHA to charge admission to the tournament games, but both Ernst and Hemming agree they just wouldn’t feel right about charging parents to watch their own family members compete, so admission for the entire tournament will be free to the public.
The hockey action will start on Sunday, March 15, with games being played throughout the week until the championship finals on Friday, March 20, with the tournament schedule soon to be determined.
Quesnel residents are encouraged to head to the arena, pack the stands and cheer on their local athletes on the Peewee Active Rent-All rep team throughout the tournament.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a game, purchasing a cash raffle ticket or volunteering during the tournament can contact Ernst and Hemming via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.