Rogers Hometown Hockey will take over the parking lot in front of the twin arenas at Genesis Place Recreation Centre Dec. 16 and 17.
“It’s been really exciting. There’s so many things associated with it,” Mayor Peter Brown said. “The economic development spin-offs are awesome. They come in five days prior to the event – they’re booking hotel rooms, they’re buying their meals, they’re filling up their gas tanks, they’re seeing what’s in our community. It gives us great exposure.”
According to Brown, the cost to the community to host the five-day event is minimal – approximately $12,000 – but the economic benefit is much greater.
“We haven’t done an exact estimate on the economic benefits but based on what (Rogers Hometown Hockey) were telling us, it was over $1 million,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be an attraction for people from Calgary. If you’re a hockey fan, you’re going to come out to Airdrie and check it out. We’re going to draw from an area of over a million people to participate in this event.”
Darrin Harrold, director of hockey operations with the Airdrie Minor Hockey League (AMHL), said the event will be huge for his association.
“It’s an honour to hold such a prestigious event. It’s just great to get the inspirational stories and celebrate our kids and our community and just celebrate hockey across Canada,” he said.
Harrold said approximately 1,500 kids have registered for the next hockey season with AMHL, amounting to 85 teams.
“There’s going to be hockey going on all weekend. We’re looking at hosting a tournament during that time,” he said.
Rogers Hometown Hockey is hosted by Ron MacLean and Tara Sloane and visits 24 communities over three months. During the stop in Airdrie, the Calgary Flames will take on the Vancouver Canucks.
The event will take place at Genesis Place, both in the parking lot outside and in the twin arenas.
The event is free of charge and features a two-day festival of live entertainment, complete with local celebrities, NHL alumni and activities for the whole family.
Brown said the City of Airdrie was approached by the organizers in June and asked if it would like to host.
“They contacted my office and we discussed the opportunities,” Brown said. “We brought in our director of community services and recreation…and then shared it with my council colleagues. It was a pretty easy decision after that.”
Two players from the AMHL will be chosen to act as ambassadors for the association.
“It’s a great honour for the kids. Rogers has asked that we pick a girl and a boy, ages 15 to 17, that are well-spoken and leaders in the community,” Harrold said.
More information about the event will be announced as the date gets closer.