General manager Ed Hervey will have pull when it comes time to figure out where the B.C. Lions want to hold training camp in 2021 and beyond.
Wally Buono was head coach and GM in 2017 when the Lions signed an extension to host camp at Hillside Stadium through 2020.
Early signs are good for Kamloops.
“We haven’t had those discussions and it’ll be handled when it’s handled, but I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t come back,” Hervey told KTW on Wednesday after a sunny training session at Hillside.
“It’s been a great facility for us. It’s an opportunity for us to bring everyone to an isolated location and keep all the players together and build continuity.”
Camp came to Kamloops in 2010 on a three-year deal with an option for 2013, which was exercised. The Leos announced in February 2013 they would stay in Kamloops through 2014.
In May 2014, the city and the Lions confirmed camp would be held in the River City in 2015. The two sides continued to talk about a longer-term extension, the one announced in 2014 that kept the Lions here through 2017.
Jeff Putnam, the City of Kamloops’ parks and civic facilities manager, told KTW in July 2017 the city will pay the Lions $45,000 in 2018, $50,000 in 2019 and $55,000 in 2020.
Nanaimo, Prince George, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Courtenay and Kelowna were among cities rumoured to be interested in intercepting the pre-season festivities when they were last up for grabs.
There is an estimated economic spinoff of $300,000 per year into the community, according to the city. Putnam was asked in 2017 about the origins of that number.
The Lions are here for nearly a month, spending money at restaurants, night clubs, the movies and malls, he said, and, “you name it, there is a gamut of companies they do business with, rental companies for vehicles, scissor-lift companies for camera crews, photographers, that type of thing.”
B.C. also hosts FanFest at each training camp, attracting tourists to the city and its hotels and restaurants, Putnam said.
“But what we get the best value from, in my opinion, is the national exposure we get from media that comes here to cover camp,” Putnam said.
“A football camp is the best training camp you can host as a community. They’re here for so long. NHL camps are two-and-a-half days on the ice and they’re gone.”
Lions’ president George Chayka and director of football operations Neil McEvoy usually negotiate with City of Kamloops brass.
“We’re certainly happy with it,” Putnam said on Thursday. “We haven’t had any serious conversations beyond 2020. It’s pretty tough to duplicate what we can offer.”
Terms of the deal dictate Kamloops is promoted in game programs and on the Jumbotron at Lions’ home games at BC Place Stadium and the city receives $10,000 in tickets, which are sold or given to charities for fundraising.
The Leos practise at Hillside Stadium, use the Tournament Capital Centre’s facilities and sleep and eat at Thompson Rivers University, a one-stop shop that is proving tough for other communities to beat.
“The city of Kamloops has been great to us,” Hervey said.
“We enjoy coming out here.”