Rebels await word on Memorial Cup bid

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GREG MEACHEM

Red Deer Advocate

The Red Deer Rebels were gambling that Western Hockey League governors would look favourably at their bid to host the 2013 Memorial Cup tournament during presentations today at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary.

Rebels senior vice-president Merrick Sutter said Monday that the club’s bid will be presented in “midafternoon” and the bid winner will be announced at about 4:30 p.m.

The Saskatoon Blades and Kelowna Rockets are the other finalists.

The Rebels bid committee has toiled long and hard since January while putting together what Sutter believes is a solid proposal.

“It’s been a lot of work over the last eight months and we think that we have a very compelling bid,” he said. “We’ve worked with a lot of people and I think we’re comfortable with our bid. We’re not  overconfident, because at the end of the day, all three cities are deserving and worthy.”

The Centrium, which along with Westerner Park would host the 10-day tournament and the additional activities, will undergo a major renovation next year that will include the addition of 1,000 seats and 14 private boxes. The additions will boost the seating capacity to close to 7,000.

“The Centrium is probably one of the biggest parts of our bid,” Sutter said. “The expansions will really help finish off the facility, making it world class …even though it’s already a world-class facility.”

“But even more than that, having Westerner Park and the ability to hold the event under one roof is — we feel — very important. The extension of that is our hotels on the south end of Red Deer. It’s a very busy part of the city and there’s a lot to offer there.”

One of the areas the governors will consider when going through the presentations will be the strengths of the bidding teams in the 2012-13 season.

“Wally (GM/head coach Jesse Wallin), dad (president/ owner Brent Sutter), myself and our staff have had a lot of conversations about the hockey team,” said the club VP.

“We’ll return a large chunk of our forwards corps next year and (18-year-old Patrik) Bartosak has been a pleasant surprise in goal. Not really a surprise, but it’s definitely nice to have that area covered. It’s important that your team be competitive. The event loses some of its lustre if the home team isn’t competitive.”

The bid committee will also make note of the fact that 2013 is Red Deer’s centennial year and will expound on the extensive fan support the Rebels have received over the years.

“Our fan base … the support we get is second to none and something that will be a big part of our presentation,” Sutter said. “The fans here have supported the team for 20 years. They deserve this more than anything.”

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