TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Canadian Hockey Association announced on Tuesday a winter 2001-02 national Zamboni ®_relay as a fundraiser and a promotional tool to encourage support of Canadas mens and womens national hockey teams for the 2001-2002 hockey season. The "Goodyear Drive For Gold" tour is expected to make a net contribution to CHA grass-roots programs of well over $850,000.
The Goodyear Drive For Gold will put a regulation Zamboni ice-resurfacer on the road from September 27th through early February and give Canadians all across the country the opportunity to show their support for Canada's national hockey teams as well, for hockey in Canada.
The Goodyear Drive For Gold Tour will visit 69 Canadian cities on a journey that will reach every Canadian province and cover an estimated 6,000 KM.
A motorcade highlighted by two 57 tractor-trailers, provided courtesy of official Tour Sponsor AMJ Campbell Van Lines, will travel from coast to coast, beginning in Eastern Canada on September 27th.
One of the Tour trucks will be outfitted as a walk-through CHA hockey exhibit, with displays covering a wide range of hockey-related themes including CHA development programs, the rise and popularity of womens hockey, and the history of Canadian hockey at major International events, including the Winter Olympics. The Tour Zamboni and display truck will make special appearances at most major communities along the Tour route.
"The Goodyear Drive For Gold Tour is a fun, whimsical take-off on the enormously popular torch relays that accompany major International events", said Bob Nicholson, President of the CHA. "This is a great concept because it brings an educational component and message to our members and fans at the community level, while increasing support for our national mens and womens teams. Most importantly, the Tour will raise significant funds that will allow the CHA to continue to invest in the grass roots development of our sport."
The support of the Canadian corporate community will account for the majority of funds raised for the Canadian Hockey Association. Goodyear Canada has made an enormous commitment as Title Sponsor of the Tour. They will also be mobilizing their national dealer network in support of this program .
"We are proud to be a major player in the effort to raise funds for Canadian grass roots hockey," said Wayne Barnes, president and CEO, Goodyear Canada. "Its strong appeal to Canada's pride as a hockey nation makes the promotion an ideal fit for Goodyear Canada. We are very excited to be involved in this torch-like relay honouring the men and women's National hockey teams."
IMG-Canada,on behalf of the CHA, is the organizer and marketing company behind the Goodyear Drive For Gold. In addition to AMJ Campbell, the tour has received sponsorship commitments from SportChek, Canada Post, Tensor and Esso.
"We are very proud of the blue-chip companies that have thrown their support behind the Goodyear Drive For Gold tour", said Scott Smith, Vice-president, Operations, CHA. "Now that the corporate community is on-board, our next step will be to create a web-site that will enable Canadians to sign up for a leg of the Tour, which we hope to launch later this summer."
In return for a CHA donation of $20.02, fans will be able to drive the Zamboni on a 1 KM leg through their city streets. While more than 90% of these legs will be available at $20.02, the CHA is also embarking on an ambitious fundraising program with ebay.ca to complement the Tour.
"We will be taking selected segments of the Tour, which we are calling Platinum Legs, and making them available on-line through the ebay.ca auction site", said the CHAs Nicholson. "This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many fans to meet hockey superstars and other celebrities from the entertainment world".
The regular Tour driver, who will be joined by various guest drivers throughout the tour, is a name already known to many Canadians. Jimmy the "Ice Man" MacNeil became famous a few years ago when he won a contest sponsored by the Zamboni Company as the "Zamboni Driver of the Year".
The Brantford, Ontario driver received 177,000 internet votes and rode his beloved Zamboni at the 1999 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto.
"I am very proud and honoured to be part of the Goodyear Drive for Gold as it hits very close to home. This is what I see every day of my life - grassroots hockey at it's finest," said MacNeil.
The City of Brantford, Ontario has also thrown its support behind the Tour. In addition to being the hometown of MacNeil and Team Canada Olympic Executive Director, Wayne Gretzky, Brantford is also the home of the Zamboni Canada.
"The Goodyear Drive for Gold is a wonderful event for the City to support because, like Brantford, it is about Canadians, community and of course, hockey." stated Chris Friel, Mayor, City of Brantford.
Speaking on behalf of the Zamboni Company, Paula Jensen, General Manager of Zamboni Merchandising Co. said: "We are honored to be a part of the Drive For Gold Tour and are looking forward to the success of this promotion, as it draws attention to Canada's hockey programs, and ultimately promotes ice sports in general, to which The Zamboni Company has committed itself for over 50 years. "