Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association players Nathan Olson

Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association players Nathan Olson

Nanaimo chosen a host city for Hometown Hockey

NANAIMO – City has been selected as a host site of the Rogers Hometown Hockey TV program on Sportsnet.

Sports fans in the city can look forward to hockey night in Nanaimo.

Rogers Hometown Hockey revealed its 24 host communities for 2016-17 on Wednesday, and the Harbour City will be one of the stops.

The City of Nanaimo held a press conference Wednesday at the Nanaimo Museum to make the announcement. The Nanaimo stop will centre around Sportsnet’s TV coverage of a Feb. 26 game between the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers.

“When this event rolls into Nanaimo in February, sports fan or not, you’re going to be absolutely blown away with what they bring to this community,” said Coun. Bill Bestwick, chairman of the local organizing committee.

Hometown Hockey sees co-hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone travelling around the country, broadcasting content to accompany telecasts of Sunday night games.

Producers developed a tentative schedule and then reached out to municipalities including Nanaimo, “and we’d have to be absolutely crazy to say ’no,’” Bestwick said.

It took some time to firm up dates that worked with the NHL schedule and MacLean’s availability.

“We have been given the challenge to create one of the finest experiences that Rogers Hometown Hockey is going to be a part of…” said Bestwick. “We will deliver and we will make this an event.”

The program will be broadcast from Maffeo Sutton Park.

“We’re going to transform that with them into an interactive weekend of festivities and leading into that we intend to have many more events and activities showcasing our beautiful city and our entertainment and our culture,” Bestwick said.

Mayor Bill McKay said hockey unites Canadians, whether they’re players, parents driving to early-morning practices or fans gathered around the TV.

“The spirit of hockey can be found in every community across … this great country, including right here in Nanaimo,” he said. “I’m looking forward to celebrating this spirit and Canada’s sport with our community and the rest of the nation.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com