The Village of Kingston wants to make a longtime dream come true.
“It’s been a dream of this community for some time to at least be in the running,” for the title of Kraft Hockeyville, said Wayne Fowler, president of the Credit Union Centre (formerly the Western Kings Arena).
A ‘Kingston is Kraft Hockeyville 2014’ celebration and rally was held Jan. 10 at the arena. Fans attending the West Kings hockey games were asked to bring along packages of Kraft Dinner, which were taken onto the ice and used to spell ‘Kingston is Kraft Hockeyville 2014’. Afterward, the KD was donated to the food bank.
Fowler said other events surrounding the bid are planned.
“If we have our way, and if the Credit Union agrees, we’d like to have a parade through the village, hopefully within the next week or so,” Fowler said.
“We need to keep the ball rolling. They’re monitoring us, now that our nomination is in.”
The history of the Kingston initiative began in 2012, when a bid was organized, but it fell victim to the NHL lockout.
“Our story pretty well tells itself,” said Fowler. Two years ago, Kingston lost its arena temporarily – and almost permanently – when cracks developed in the floor and caused the coolant to leak out.
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Kings County came through with a $150,000 grant, “and the village did what it could with Steer Barbecue funds,” Fowler said.
“We were able to keep the facility open while the repairs were being made, and a temporary (ice) surface laid on sand. We must have laid five miles of pipe. We put a sand base in, and got the kids back on the ice last season. That’s the foundation of our story.”
But it didn’t end there. A long-term solution – and repairs - were needed. The county contributed $250,000 in value-added upgrades, Fowler said, and “we went to the Credit Union and made them an offer we hoped they couldn’t refuse.” Another round table discussion was held, including naming and branding rights for the arena, as a means of alleviating the mortgage it was carrying.
Fowler believes the story is a compelling one, and hopefully just what Kraft Hockeyville and the CBC are looking for.
“Whatever has happened here, the community has made it happen,” he said. “This has always been, and always will be, the centre of Kingston, and our ‘Hockeyville’.”
People can support Kingston’s bid by accessing the Kraft Hockeyville website (krafthockeyville.cbc.ca), joining under the Credit Union Centre, and writing a story or sharing a photo.
“We need as many people as possible to join the group to show Kraft, the CBC and Canada that we are Kraft Hockeyville,” Fowler says.
Nominations for Kraft Hockeyville 2014 close Feb. 9. On Hockey Night in Canada March 8, eight finalists each for the different regions of the country will be announced. Six finalists receive $25,000, and the final four receive $50,000, with the winner receiving $100,000 and an NHL game in their community.
See a video here.