Flin Flon is taking its best shot at becoming Canada’s next Kraft Hockeyville.
A bid for the community and the Whitney Forum has been created as part of the national campaign, made to help Canadian hockey thrive and improve existing rinks and programs. Thousands of dollars of rink improvements - $250,000, to be precise - are up for grabs for the winning community, along with an NHL preseason game next fall. Since the program began 16 years ago, more than $4 million has been given to communities across Canada - though no Manitoba or Saskatchewan community or arena has ever won the title.
The Flin Flon bid is currently in the first phase of Hockeyville applications. That phase ends April 3, leaving to a judging period which ends April 23. Four communities will be selected as final competitors April 23, with a winner being selected later this year after final judging and a community vote. The winner of this year’s Kraft Hockeyville will be announced May 7.
Kraft, the title sponsor of Hockeyville, has reached out to organizers looking for more detail about hockey in Flin Flon and the Whitney Forum, looking to see if Flin Flon’s beloved old barn fits all standards for the competition.
“We’re planning on continuing the improvements we want to do with the Forum, with accessibility, with the memorabilia case and such,” said Andrew Smith, City of Flin Flon recreation director and lead organizer for Flin Flon’s campaign. Smith said if Flin Flon gets the funds, those projects will be high on the list for where the funding could go.
“We have a really good chance of getting into the next round - then it’s a strong community rally after that. We need to ensure we get to that round right now.”
Flin Flon has applied for Hockeyville in the past, but while previous bids saw local support, none were successful. That is a trend Smith and others involved with the bid hope to buck this time.
“I’m aware that we’ve did pretty well in this before, as a community,” Smith said.
“I’ve thrown together a little something in there and we’re actually getting some really good community feedback in there - there’s a few likes and a few Tweets, but obviously we need more than what we have right now.”
In Hockeyville, applications are weighed according to a points system, with different amounts of points coming with different types of engagement. A community’s total score is made up of points from nominations and what are called “rally points” - submitting a nomination story to the community Hockeyville page, for instance, is worth 10 points. A Twitter share, using the site’s share button, is five points - adding photos or video of the arena is three points, while adding a note or reacting to the stories, video and photos already on the page earns one point each.
Smith said the thing the bid needs the most is community support, particularly online - as much as possible, as soon as possible.
“We need the community to like and share the photos on there, add their own photos under the Whitney Forum page and continue on with sharing on Twitter and everything. Unfortunately, likes on Facebook do not count towards anything for this,” he said.
The Flin Flon application can be found on the Kraft Hockeyville website at www.krafthockeyville.ca/#/community/whitneyforum.