Hotels, restaurants, and stores will be filled with fans, players, and coaches from across the country in just a month's time when the Centennial Cup comes to Portage.
Cody Buhler with Centennial Cup sales and marketing says the biggest difference with the Centennial Cup compared to when the city last hosted the tournament in 2015 is that the number of teams has doubled from five to ten.
"(Since then,) there's been some change in the (Canadian Junior Hockey League)," explains Buhler. "They've decided that every single league winner will be coming to the national tournament. They held the ten-team tournament in Estevan last year and so this is the second time it's being held like that. It's really nice because it allows every league to pay attention to the national championship because everybody has a representative, so everybody from across Canada will be paying close attention to this year's event."
In previous years, there would be inter-league tournaments to whittle the league winners down to the five best, like the ANAVET Cup between the MJHL and SJHL champions. Buhler adds that the addition of these teams obviously increases the cost of running the event as well.
"There are a lot of expenses that are on the host committee" mentions Buhler. "It's around $750,000. That includes all the hotels for all the teams, all their food, and their travel. It's a lot of expense for these teams during their playoff runs, and not every team across the country is in the same spot financially, so it's the host committee's responsibility to pay all the expenses for the teams to get them here."
He adds that some teams will be playing tournaments into early May, and not know if they'll be playing in the Centennial Cup until it all wraps up. So, paying for these teams to travel helps each team focus on what really matters, playing as best as they can on the ice.
Once the tournament concludes, any profits are put into a legacy fund which is used to donate to organizations around the host city.
The Centennial Cup will run from May 11-21.