It was a little more than ten years ago that Quesnel lost its junior hockey team.
The sale and relocation of the Millionaires was approved by the BC Hockey League’s Board of Governors on May 27th, 2011.
A decade later and Quesnel is still looking for a new team.
Jeff Norburn is the Director of Community Services…
“Attracting a team to Quesnel, a Junior A team or a Junior B team, has certainly been a priority for the City and the Cariboo Regional District, particularly since the West Fraser Centre has opened. We’ve had conversations with some different perspective teams, we don’t have anything that has actually come to fruition yet, but we remain hopeful that, particularly as the COVID restrictions are removed or relaxed, that there will be a team that will potentially make Quesnel their home.”
Norburn says they have had discussions with different teams over the years that have expressed at least some interest in coming to Quesnel.
He says it has to be the right fit for the community as well as for the other arena user groups.
“Any time there is a new user group, particularly a Junior A or Junior B team that puts pressure on the other user groups, it’s going to displace other user groups from their ice time. It’s something that can be accommodated certainly, and was, we had the Millionaires here for many years, and they played 30 home games a year and they had practices, you know we were able to accommodate it for two ice surfaces so it can certainly be done again.”
“Especially if we get the right fit with the right league, that those teams can be a good model I guess for minor hockey players coming up through the system, there is opportunities to volunteer and get involved with the intermission activities and things like.”
Norburn says it can also provide spectator entertainment and civic pride, and he says there is a lot of positive economic activity in the community as a result of having a junior hockey team.
“Absolutely, you’ll have 30 home games with teams coming through staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and becoming exposed to your facility and your community, and I think those types of advantages are definitely a lot of the attractants that are associated with having a junior A or junior B team in your community.”
We asked Norburn if the City and the CRD were going out and looking for opportunities, or if it was a case of waiting for one to come ?
“I’d say that we have actively reached out, we’ve got staff in our recreation department who have been in periodical contact with the different leagues and with some of the different teams. We’re certainly always trying to get Quesnel’s name out there. I think to a certain degree though, you have to wait for an opportunity to present itself.”
Before Quesnel had a BC Hockey League team beginning in 1996, the Millionaires played in the Peace Cariboo Junior Hockey League and won the Western Canada Junior B Championship in 1978.