By The Charlottetown Guardian
Ask Wayne MacDougall what the hardest part of chairing the host committee for the Canadian Junior “A” hockey championship is and the answer might surprise you.
Putting together the organizing team was a veritable snap. So, too, was getting volunteers.
"The toughest thing is probably making sure that it is at least a break-even proposition because the host committee is an arm of the (Charlottetown) Abbies and they are owned by five or six people. At the end of the day, they are the ones who share in the profits or losses and it's my responsibility to ensure there are no losses on this tournament."
For nine days in May, the Abbies will host four regional champions for the national championship and are looking to repeat what the 2002 Halifax Exports did, win a Canadian title at home.
But long before the puck drops, MacDougall and his 200-strong group of committee vice-presidents and volunteers must assure the off-ice product is as impressive as the on-ice production.
In an effort to attain that goal, the chair has surrounded himself with people he knows can do the job because most have been involved in similar capacities in the past.
Building the foundation began as soon as the Maritime Junior “A” Hockey League Abbies became the successful bidder.
"What I immediately did was ask some of my colleagues and friends over the years in hockey like Billy Mulligan, George Trainor, Brian Cameron, Kenny Doucette, people who have been in hockey and held prestigious positions within the P.E.I. Hockey Association, to help," said MacDougall. Each committee vice-president then went out and recruited their own volunteers.
"The people that have been recruited by the various sectors are people that have been in hockey, in different associations throughout the province, and as well, they recruited hockey people who have participated in minor hockey tournaments, Fred Page Cups, Hardy Cups," said MacDougall.
Over the next several weeks, plans are to provide an inside look at RBC '03, along with updates on how leagues are progressing along the Road to the Royal Bank Cup.
Playing host to the National Junior “A” Championship is a costly venture.
The Charlottetown committee has a budget of close to $425,000 which includes everything from arena rentals, airline tickets for regional winners, hotels and meals for the teams, ground transportation while on the Island, game-day activities like referees and must also pay the expenses of the junior director of each winning association.
"It's imperative we gain fan support for this tournament," said MacDougall, whose group receives a $40,000 grant from the Canadian Hockey Association. "The Abbies are doing well, there is a good possibility some local kids could be coming in on other teams. We certainly need the public's backing in order to make this a break-even position for the tournament."
The organizing committee is pleased with the support to date with more than 1,300 packages sold for the event.
Even if hockey isn't your game, RBC '03 is a lot more. It's a week-long entertainment package, complete with a Molson Canadian Potato Patch (a take-off of the Brier Patch or the Heart Stop Lounge for the curling enthusiasts) at the Trade Centre.
The return of the band Haywire to P.E.I. on May 11th is just one of the musical treats.
"There will be a number of televisions to watch NHL games and we're in the negotiation stage to have the games from the Civic Centre broadcast in the Potato Patch as well."
Plans are to have a memorabilia room, silent auctions, a fun zone for kids, Game 1 barbecue, golf tournament, and 'The P.E.I. Experience' as part of the festivities.
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