Premier John Horgan said Western Hockey League rinks, such as Sandman Centre in Kamloops, could be venues used by the NHL to finish its 2019-2020 season, which was suspended on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia,” Horgan said on Wednesday during a press conference in Victoria, where he was asked about a Tuesday conversation with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George. The Kootenays in Cranbrook has an outstanding facility, as well. We have hotel space. So the sky’s really the limit.”
Sean Smith, business operations and events supervisor for the City of Kamloops, said the idea is worth exploring.
“At this point, we’ve not been contacted by the premier’s office or the NHL, but we would certainly be very interested in having that conversation and seeing what Kamloops could do to support what they’re trying to do, as long as it works with approved access to facilities, the reopening, as well as not causing any impacts to the Blazers,” Smith told KTW.
“It’s definitely worth looking into further to see what conversations have been had, and by who, but at this point, it’s all very new information to us. But very interesting.”
Smith said roadblocks include adhering to physical-distancing measures and determining plans for dressing-room use.
“Those hurdles would be those of the NHL’s to figure out,” Smith said. “Without having the spectator capacity to worry about, there’s no reason why the Sandman Centre wouldn’t be a fantastic venue to host an NHL game, with all the new improvements we’ve made to it and not having 20,000 seats to fill.”
Horgan said arenas in Chilliwack, Vancouver, Langley, Abbotsford and Penticton could also host NHL games and noted the Vancouver Canucks have been in contact with Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to discuss hosting games in the province.