Hockey fans are already buzzing about the prospect of the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames facing off at Mosaic Stadium in October for the Heritage Classic.
With Calgary and Winnipeg meeting in the middle, one question is who will have the home ice advantage?
“Personally, for me I like Winnipeg just because they were the first NHL team that I got to see live,” one man commented.
Another chimed in that he preferred Calgary. On social media, a few people commented that they would never be able to cheer for any Winnipeg team at the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“It’s too bad the Flames are playing,” another man said, noting he would prefer a different match-up altogether, maybe with the Vancouver Canucks.
In a province where hockey loyalties are divided between many different Canadian and American teams, support for the Jets or the Flames seemed to be split down the middle for many fans our reporters spoke to.
“In Regina, it’s Edmonton, it’s Calgary and it’s Winnipeg – and there’s still so many Toronto and Montreal fans here too,” another fan commented.
A few other hockey fans expressed concern about the pricing of tickets. When Winnipeg hosted the Heritage Classic, single tickets ranged in price from $185 to $699, which included the alumni game as well.
Province kicks in $500K from tourism budget
The province will be contributing $500,000 from the annual tourism budget towards the event itself.
Parks, culture and sport minister Gene Makowsky noted that figure is very similar to government spending on hosting events such as Grey Cups or curling bonspiels like the Brier or the Scotties, as well as the Memorial Cup and the CP Women’s Open last year.
The City of Regina is also expected to contribute towards funding the event.
Makowsky said he was enthusiastic about the official announcement made by the NHL on New Year’s Day. He said it was fitting for a hockey-loving province like Saskatchewan to host a regular season outdoor game.
“We have so many NHL players from Saskatchewan … It’s certainly the heartland of hockey that we have in our province, and to have a showcase game like this here, in this wonderful new stadium is going to be very exciting for the citizens of this province,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the game will attract many visitors from outside the borders of the province. He joked that maybe the Flames fans will be seated on the west side, while the Jets fans will be on the east.
Makowsky said the game is expected to boost tourism by attracting visitors from neighbouring provinces and across Saskatchewan where the tradition of hockey may win over fans even if they don’t get to cheer for their favourite team.