The Canadian Hockey Association chose Charlottetown to host the Royal Bank Cup Junior A national championship.
This marks the first time since 1971 that Charlottetown hosted the event. It was then called the Centennial Cup and the Abbies finished second to the Red Deer Rustlers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Red Deer was supposed to host the event, but a last minute change saw the event moved to Charlottetown.
The Royal Bank Cup features the host team plus the four regional champions from across the country.
Duncan Fader, the Abbies business manager, helped the team bid for the 2003 Royal Bank Cup, a bid that had to be approved by Canadian Hockey Association.
“If you package it right and the CHA sees it fit, you get the call. There are a number of factors which determine the site,” he said in late February.
Rob Litwinski, the manager of domestic events for the CHA, described the bidding process.
Each September the CHA sets its guidelines and forwards them to provincial hockey associations that have junior A teams. Teams hoping to host must meet these guidelines as best they can.
They must have a minimum of 2,000 seats, adequate advertising space, media space for TSN to televise the event and a strong history of hockey in the area. Also they must have hosted large events before. Charlottetown hosted the 1991 Canada Winter Games, the event for which the Civic Centre was built.
“We don’t know if we’ll get two bids or more,” Litwinski said in March. “But, all bids will be given equal consideration.”
The Abbies prepared their bid and were lucky enough to meet the criteria.
“The facility is a major part of the equation,” Fader said.
And with the Civic Centre in tact, facility usage was not a problem.
Charlottetown also has enough hotels to accommodate the visiting teams and with a strong commercial base finding sponsors was not difficult. Nor was finding a fan base to attend games.
The Abbies set what they thought was a reasonable goal of 1,200 event passes at $99 each. As of April 28th 1,700 such passes were sold.
The Royal Bank and Centenial cup has showcased a handful of current NHLers such as Rod Brind’Amour (Carolina Hurricanes), Scott Gomez (New Jersey Devils) and Curtis Joseph (Detroit Red Wings).
Prince Edward Island has hosted the tournament three times dating back to the inaugural event in 1971 in Charlottetown. Summerside hosted in 1989 losing in the final to the Thunder Bay Flyers and again in 1997 where they beat the South Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.