The Abbotsford Centre could be a potential site to host NHL games if Metro Vancouver is selected as a “bubble city” by the league. (File photo)

The Abbotsford Centre could be a potential site to host NHL games if Metro Vancouver is selected as a “bubble city” by the league. (File photo)

Could Abbotsford Centre host NHL games during pandemic?

Postponed hockey season could possibly coming to Metro Vancouver later this year

If the National Hockey League decides to resume its 2019-20 season in B.C., the Abbotsford Centre is ready to step up as a host.

Metro Vancouver and the province of B.C. have been included in a lot of the chatter about where to possibly continue the postponed season, with Premier John Horgan writing a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week.

Horgan noted that B.C.’s plan to battle the COVID-19 pandemic has been effective and the region has a long history of hosting events such as the Olympics and the World Junior Hockey Championships.

RELATED: B.C. Premier Horgan reaches out to NHL to offer place to play if hockey returns

“It is our firm belief that British Columbia is the ideal location to host the resumption of NHL games,” Horgan wrote to Bettman. “Given the success of our efforts to contain COVID-19 in our province, British Columbia is among the few jurisdictions in North America where a plan that adheres to public health orders and that offers a comfortable, safe, and secure environment for the players and their families can be developed.”

It was reported on CTV that Bettman will be meeting with Horgan on Wednesday, and that Metro Vancouver, along with Edmonton and Toronto are amongst the regions being considered. Games would be not be played in front of fans and Bettman told media in April that they are looking at four “bubble cities” that would host seven or eight teams.

The league postponed its season on March 12, with teams having anywhere from 11 to 14 games remaining on that schedule. The exact format for a return is still uncertain.

Abbotsford Centre general manager Rick Comeau said he would welcome the NHL locally. He said he and the City of Abbotsford, which owns the arena, have had conversations about the possibility of games being played here, and he said the city is on board.

Social media speculation has seen venues such as Rogers Arena, the Pacific Coliseum, UBC Thunderbird Arena, Abbotsford Centre and the Langley Events Centre all potentially hosting games without fans.

“I think when you look across the country this market makes sense for a number of reasons,” Comeau said. “When you look at the amount of COVID cases we have in B.C. compared to Ontario or Quebec, I think Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team have done a really good job here making sure that people are doing what they should be doing and flattening the curve.”

Comeau said that having so many venues all within an hour drive or less would be useful for the NHL. He added that the proximity to Abbotsford International Airport also makes the Abbotsford Centre an attractive option.

“We’re definitely willing to support in any way we can,” he said.

There is no ice currently at the Abbotsford Centre, but Comeau said it would take only three days for a playing surface to be ready to go. Due to the lack of activity at the arena, he said much of the regular summer maintenance for the facility has already been finished or is ahead of its normal schedule.

Comeau said last September’s exhibition game featuring the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators at the Abbotsford Centre saw the arena comply with all NHL standards and he said there would be no issue keeping the ice playable at a high level in potentially hot weather.

“Prior to last year’s game we had to make sure we were complying with all NHL regulations and standards so we did a few capital improvements to the venue,” he said. “So because we did that last September, I think the NHL already has a list of all the things we’ve done to make sure we’re compliant. It’s easy for them to see that we met all requirements and we would have no issues maintaining a good quality of ice.”

Ordinarily the ice in the Abbotsford Centre is removed in early-March and returns in September. The venue regularly hosts adult, women’s and minor hockey and is also the home of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds major midget league team.

Comeau confirmed that he has not yet had any conversations with Premier Horgan or anyone at the NHL, but re-iterated that he and the city would work with whoever is needed to make the NHL in Abbotsford a reality.

“They’re fully behind us hosting the NHL here if that were to happen,” Comeau said of the city.

CoronavirushockeyNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fort Langley’s Wout Brouwer captured this picture of McMillan Island from the opposite shore of the Bedford Channel on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Maple Ridge mountaintops backdrop former Ridge church

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Langley churches offer in-person services precisely because they care about people

Letter writer concerned Township councillor wants to punish churches with tax threat

Crows gather at in the cottonwoods of Sandra Kidder’s neighbour in Aldergrove every winter morning just before sunrise. (Sandra Kidder/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Aldergrove cottonwoods hosts morning murder of crows

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Parker Goddard, swinging at the ball) is wanting to hear from anyone interested in playing Spikeball. (Parker Goddard/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Spikeball is looking for players

Local resident inviting people to try out a new hybrid sport – volleyball meets trampoline

Anne-Marie Walsh snapped this photo of farmland along Glover Road on Oct. 10 when the interesting clouds caught her attention.
SHARE: Clouds captivate in rural Langley

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

At least 9 interveners will seek to join a rancher’s request for a judicial review of Alberta’s decision

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

Most Read