Opinion Editorial

Score one for Orillia

Imagine spending $30,000 to reach more than half a million people. Talk about a solid investment. Throw in an estimated $1-million economic impact to the community and it’s like scoring the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

That’s what the city will, in effect, accomplish in November, when it hosts Rogers Hometown Hockey, the Sportsnet TV show that has become a network mainstay to help promote its Sunday-night hockey coverage.

The popular show is hosted by Ron MacLean and Tara Slone, and while the cornerstone is the Sunday-night game, it’s a two-day affair that includes live entertainment, giveaways and appearances from NHL alumni. The highlight is a live pre-game show that will precede the Montreal Canadiens/Chicago Blackhawks game scheduled that night.

To have the power of the national NHL broadcaster’s spotlight shine on Orillia’s place in the country’s hockey milieu is a win-win for the municipality. It helps promote the city, it reminds people about the shared love we have for hockey, it unifies the community and it builds pride in this place we call home.

“This will be a true community event and will provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase Orillia’s rich sporting past, present and future through a national broadcast,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

Council should be congratulated for recognizing this opportunity and for having the wherewithal to approve $30,000 to fund the expenses associated with the event — costs such as security, washrooms, marketing and site contingencies. It is money well spent as officials project viewership of the program to be between 500,000 and one million people.

To ensure the event is a hit and that Orillia puts its best face forward, an organizing committee, chaired by Orillia Winter Games general manager Mike Ladouceur, is comprised of not just city staff but representatives from Ontario’s Lake Country, Orillia Minor Hockey Association, Orillia Girls Hockey Association and the AAA North Central Predators. Together, they will plan, organize and facilitate the event in conjunction with Rogers, which will supply the staging, NHL alumni, musical guests and activities.

Rogers estimates participating communities receive an economic impact of almost $1 million. The event also creates short-term employment as Rogers hires up to 40 weekend ambassadors who will help spread the Orillia gospel, which will undoubtedly include the city’s successful bid to host both the 2018 and 2020 Ontario Winter Games.

Circle the weekend of Nov. 4-5 on your calendar and get ready to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the featured community on Rogers Hometown Hockey. Dig out your vintage Orillia Terriers or Orillia Travelways jerseys and join in the festivities — all of which are free. You can help Orillia score big-time and make the best of what is a rare and welcome opportunity to let others across the land know what we know: Orillia is a winner.

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