The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced the Oshawa Generals and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds officially submitted bids to host the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament.
The Memorial Cup tournament has used its current format since 1983, adding the host city’s team into the tournament alongside the three league champions. The last time Oshawa was home to the Memorial Cup tournament was in 1987.
The City of Oshawa and the Oshawa Generals are best suited to be the hosts of next year’s Canadian Hockey League (CHL) championship tournament. Period.
In recent years, the tournament has been hosted in CHL arenas with the potential for the largest crowds. These crowds usually average 6,000 plus.
The GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie has an insufficient capacity to host this kind of event. The rink’s capacity of 4,917 people is almost 1,500 less than the CHL average of 6,398.
If the CHL wants to make the most money possible, the easiest way is to sell more tickets. Oshawa can do this. Plain and simple.
While both teams fall short of the CHL average, the capacity of the Generals’ home rink, the 6,150-person capacity Tribute Communities Centre is much closer.
The last time the Memorial Cup tournament was played in a building with a capacity of less than 5,000 seats was in 2012 when it took place in Shawinigan, Que. The only other time in this century when a building of that size hosted was in 2002, in Guelph, Ont.
Smaller arenas don’t measure up. Oshawa is up 1-0.
Having a lot of seats in the building is one thing, but consistently filling them is another. This is yet another zone where the Oshawa Generals are superior.
Every year since the 2014-2015 season, the Generals have had an average attendance of more than 5,000 people. The Greyhounds have been averaging between 3,700 and 4,000 people during the same time period.
While the Greyhounds have fewer seats in the building, they are still having a hard time filling them at the same rate Oshawa is. Like any deep playoff run, the Memorial Cup would boost the numbers, resulting in more people attending games in Oshawa.
Oshawa has more seats and has proved they have no issue filling them.
Make it 2-0 Oshawa.
During its 101-year history, Memorial Cup tournaments have brought junior hockey fans in from across the country for a two-week spectacle. Having Oshawa host would be beneficial to those who travel to the tournament every year.
The largest airport in the country, Toronto Pearson Airport, is only about an hour away from the Tribute Communities Centre. The benefit of the tournament being played in the GTA? This distance can easily be covered by public transit.
If the tournament is played in southern Ontario, it increases the likelihood of the second OHL team’s fans to travel. For example, if the Kitchener Rangers or Kingston Frontenacs were to also make the tournament, their fans could drive the two-hour commute to see their team play.
If Sault Ste. Marie was to host, the closest OHL teams are more than four hours away in Sudbury and North Bay. It just does not make sense to have the tournament so far away from the major centre of the OHL.
Oshawa scores again, 3-0.
Fans of the Oshawa Generals have waited more than 30 years to see their team win a Memorial Cup championship on home ice. The chance at their CHL leading sixth championship should be played in Oshawa in 2021 – that’s just the facts.