At its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, Kingston City Council will consider whether to provide funding for the Kingston Frontenacs’ bid to host the 2024 Memorial Cup hockey tournament. Last fall, the Frontenacs organization submitted a letter of intent to the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), stating the club’s interest in hosting the tournament. Now, Kingston City Council is being asked to lend its support to the bid, with staff recommending the City contribute approximately $635,000 toward the event.
A report published in advance of next week’s Council meeting suggests hosting the Memorial Cup could bring approximately $20.4 million to the local economy. The event, which usually takes place over 10 days in late May or early June, is the championship tournament for the CHL season. “The Memorial Cup is the largest amateur hockey tournament in Canada. The event typically has a budget of approximately $13.5 million in combination with expenditures by event organizers and is projected to attract over 55,000 spectators,” the report says.
The City of Kingston has a long history of supporting major sporting events. In 2018, Council contributed $200,000 to host the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, which generated $8.2 million of economic activity for the city. Kingston has also hosted the 2015 Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships and the 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
In terms of the City of Kingston’s proposed financial input for the 2024 Memorial Cup, event organizers are seeking $374,000 worth of in-kind contributions, in order to offset “facility and equipment rental fees, staffing costs, and enhanced and extended municipal services across City departments.” Council is also being asked to incorporate $261,000 into the 2024 municipal operational budget, which will be funded through the City’s Working Fund Reserve. The staff report notes that financial contributions from the City of Kingston will not have a direct impact on the property tax rate.
Staff are also recommending that Council waive any applicable fees through the Fees and Charges Bylaw “to support in-kind services and contributions to the 2024 Memorial Cup.” All of the funding pledged in the bid is dependent on Kingston being awarded the tournament.
On top of the $635,000 organizers are seeking to secure from the City, Tourism Kingston will also seek support through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Reconnect Ontario Marquee Event Fund. “This fund supports large-scale, high-impact events that will draw tourists and national media and that will have a major economic impact to their host city,” the report to Council states.
According to the report, staff have been working with Tourism Kingston as well as the Kingston Frontenacs hockey club to identify any requirements that may be placed on the City if Kingston is successful in its bid. The report says, “All games will take place at the Leon’s Centre. The Invista Centre will serve as the designated practice and training site for the 160 participants.”
Aside from the on-ice activity, Kingston’s downtown core would become a hub of activity, with Springer Market Square, Memorial Hall, and Frontenac Parking Lot all playing host to various activations and fan zones. “Support will be required from almost all City of Kingston departments,” the report says, noting that the entire tournament is also expected to be broadcast nationally on TSN, providing significant exposure for the city.
This bid marks the second time the City of Kingston and the Frontenacs organization have campaigned for the tournament. In 2010, Kingston lost out to Mississauga for the right to host the 2011 Memorial Cup. For the 2024 edition of the tournament, Kingston is competing against Niagara, Sault Ste. Marie, and Saginaw, Michigan. The official bid is due to the CHL by Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, with the league expected to announce the host for next year’s tournament sometime this March.
Kingston City Council will debate the funding request at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at 7 p.m. inside Council Chambers.