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

Langley letter writer hopes after seeing how Willoughby developed, the Township protects Walnut Grove green spaces. (Langley Advance Times file)
LETTER: Walnut Grove resident cherishes Langley’s green spaces

Willoughby was allowed to develop without enough consideration for nature, writer says

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – checkpoint at Manning Park

Four checkpoints are set up Thursday, May 6 around the province

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Former Langley School District superintendent Suzanne Hoffman is the new CEO of the B.C. School Trustee Association (BCSTA). (Black Press Media files)
Former Langley school superintendent to lead trustee organization

Suzanne Hoffman worked for Langley before a job with Vancouver School Board

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Sgt. Frank Jang said outside of Langley Sportsplex at 91a Ave and 200 Street after a man was fatally shot in April 2021. (Black Press Media file)
LETTER: Casual drug users have link to gang killings, says Langley letter writer

The Lower Mainland is in the midst of another gang war and the illicit drug market is part of it

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

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

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Most Read