OHL names Spitfires as host for 2017 Memorial Cup

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Windsor Star/Jim Parker

The Ontario Hockey League has named the Windsor Spitfires as host of the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup.

“The City of Windsor and Essex County is home to some of the most passionate fans in the entire Canadian Hockey League,” OHL commissioner David Branch said. “It is only fitting that an event of this magnitude be hosted in a world class facility like the WFCU Centre in a community that embodies dedication and over 40 years of rich history in junior hockey.

“We are extremely proud to award the Spitfires the opportunity to host the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup and look forward to showcasing our league and the CHL’s best major junior players and teams in Windsor next May.”

The Spitfires had bid to host the event in 2011 only to see it awarded to Mississauga and the club bid again in 2014, but saw that tournament awarded to London.

Windsor was the only league team to make its bid for the 2017 event public and on April 18th made its presentation to the OHL Site Selection Committee of former Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston, NHL executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Jim Gregory and Scott Moore, who is president of Sportsnet and NHL properties at Rogers.

“It has been a dream since day one of our ownership to bring this prestigious event to Windsor,” Spitfires majority owner Bob Boughner said. “We are very excited to give our loyal fans, who have faithfully supported the Spitfires, an opportunity to experience the pinnacle of junior hockey. Thank you to commissioner David Branch and the bid committee for entrusting in our ability as host. We’ll strive to make it unforgettable.”

It has taken just two weeks for the committee to come to a decision. In 2014, London was named host just days before the 2013 tournament got underway. This year’s MasterCard Memorial Cup does not get underway until May 19th in Red Deer, AB.

This will be just the second time Windsor hast hosted the event in the 99-year history of the Memorial Cup and the first time since 1981 when it was held at Windsor Arena. The club became just the eighth team in Memorial Cup history to win back-to-back titles with wins in 2009 in Rimouski, Que. and Brandon, Man.

Unlike the tournament in 1981, the 2017 event, which will run May 18 to 28, will see the Spitfires get an automatic entry into the tournament along with the champion from the OHL, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Should Windsor win the OHL title, the team that reaches the final against the Spitfires will get the other tournament spot.

Savage, Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel, director of business development Steve Horne, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and former mayor Eddie Francis made the club’s presentation in Scarborough.

The bid was judged on several pillars from arena facility, to hotels, business plan, event logistics and strength of team.

“What a great day for the City of Windsor and Windsor Spitfires fans,” Spitfires governor and 2017 host committee chair John Savage. “To be given the honour of hosting the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup is a major affirmation of this city, its team and our fans.”