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

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

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

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

Most Read