Newcomer aims to make FSJ 'Hockeyville 2011'

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A newcomer to Fort St. John wants to help the Energetic City become ‘Kraft Hockeyville 2011’.

Tom Harwood was previously involved with Hockeyville bids in Smithers, B.C. (2nd place – 2006) and Terrace, B.C. (1st place – 2009), as well as Dundas, Ontario (1st place – 2010). He says he has proven model which could bring the coveted title to the North Peace in 2011.

There are several benefits to winning the competition, including $100,000 in arena upgrades, an NHL pre-season game, and branding and marketing upshots.

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However, while he’s happy to be involved in a bid, and willing to share his expertise, Harwood wants a Fort St. John bid to be run by Fort St. John residents. “I’d like to see someone local, who knows their community, who is well known in their community.” Harwood swears by his formula, and seems confident it could work here – so long as the local committee is committed to the cause. “You play hockey aggressively, and this bid has to be aggressive” he says. He points to the thousands of other communities across Canada that will vie for the title, and says only a serious bid will suffice.

Harwood says that to be successful, Fort St. John would need a committee of 10-15 people dedicated to the cause. “They don’t even have to love hockey” Harwood says, “if they have a passion about their community – that’s equally as important.” At this point, there’s still time before an autumn deadline, giving those who do step up plenty of time to plan and strategize.

As he sees it, Fort St. John is the perfect candidate to win this type of competition. “It’s a working town” he notes, “and historically working towns have done very well.” He also points to the community’s hockey culture and location, saying Fort St. John could generate plenty of support and votes from Alberta, and all over Western Canada. “Strategically, Fort St. John is perfect. We’ve got two different provinces that would probably jump on behind us if we made it to the top ten [the public voting phase] and that’s absolutely critical.”

To win Kraft Hockeyville 2011, communities will need to survive a marathon bidding process. In the 2010 competition, 7,000 communties across Canada threw their hats in the ring, with only 10 communities (12 in 2011) chosen by CBC and Kraft judges. After that, the finalists will battle in a head-to-head showdown, with the ultimate champion determined by the public. “It’s a lot like American Idol” Harwood says. He says Terrace received more than two million votes when it won in 2009, “that’s more votes than a politician gets for Prime Minister.”

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Anyone interested in getting involved in a Fort St. John Kraft Hockeyville 2011 committee is invited to get in touch at Tom Harwood, at [email protected]

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