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The talk is over, and the four OHL teams looking to host the 2011 Memorial Cup have made their presentations to the Site Selection Committee. Now they wait and see if their team and city will host junior hockey's marquee event....
"I think we put the strongest bid forward."
Those were the words of Mississauga St. Michael's Majors owner Eugene Melnyk shortly after his group presented to the 2011 Memorial Cup Selection Committee. The Majors are believed to be one of the favourites in the bidding process - especially with the number of players Mississauga has returning next season. But the owner of the Ottawa Senators is also leaning on his NHL club and previous event success to boost the Memorial Cup bid. "There's a lot of synergies involved with the Ottawa Senators," added Melnyk. That expertise that we can apply in making this a huge success. I think we've shown that we were able to do that in the World Juniors last year where it was a record World Junior championship."
The 2009 World Juniors held in Ottawa set an event attendance record with 453,282 people.
Many pundits believe the Windsor Spitfires will provide the stiffest competition for the Majors in earning the right to host the Memorial Cup. The Spitfires needed to demonstrate to the committee just what sort of team Windsor will have next season considering the players they could potentially lose to graduation. The Spitfires have already hosted successful events in the Canada/Russia challenge, OHL All-Star and CHL Prospects Game. "I think we're very comfortable with our presentation," explained Spitfires Governor Peter Dobrich. "The flow was right, we honed in on the main points we wanted to drill down with respect to our bid and we're just excited. We're excited to have it over and we're anxious to find out after the draft what the decision will be."
The Barrie Colts are another team with questions as to what sort of roster they will have next season. Head Coach Marty Williamson handles the Hockey Operations side of the team and outlined that to the committee - just hours before he had to be behind the bench for the opening game of this year's Eastern Final against Mississauga. Owner Howie Campbell handled the other aspects of the bid, which includes renovations to the Barrie Molson Centre to increase seating. The club has also proposed housing all of the out-of-town teams at nearby Horseshoe Valley Resort. This is a concept that Barrie has used in their previous bids, but CFB Borden was discussed many years ago. While the setting would be friendly and may be more comfortable than would could be a stale hotel, the distance from the resort to the arena - about 20 minute drive - could play a factor in the decision-making process.
There are many questions surrounding the bid of the Kingston Frontenacs, with some wondering if it is too early for them. The Frontenacs are looking to re-build support in the community by putting a winning team on the ice. Steps were made this season and a packed house for Game 7 of the first round against Brampton shows the potential is there. Of all four bids, the K-Rock Centre in Downtown Kingston has the best location of all of the bidders in terms of being able to bring together the arena, hotels, restaurants and more in a small area. This is a combination that is often cited as creating some of the best Memorial Cup events. "Our board put a good presentation together and it's my job to put the team together," said Frontenacs Coach Doug Gilmour. "Where we're going and where we're moving - hopefully we get that opportunity. I believe with what we have coming back and the additions we'll make, we'll be right there"
The Site Selection Committee is chaired by Ontario Hockey League Legal Counsel Gord Kirke. He is joined by Toronto Blue Jays President Paul Beeston, former NHL Central Scouting boss Frank Bonello, Director of Central Scouting EJ McGuire and NHL Senior VP Jim Gregory. It is believed they focus on, in no particular order - Hockey Team, Financial, Community. All four bidding groups needed to not only satisfy minimum requirements, but show they could exceed expectations in all of those areas.
The winning city is to be announced during the week of May 3. It will give that group the chance to prepare for a trip to this year's Memorial Cup in Brandon, MB.
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