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Saskatchewan to pay CHL $668,000 over Memorial Cup’s slim profit

Halifax Mooseheads Nathan MacKinnon celebrates after scoring an empty net goal on the Portland Winterhawks during the third period of the Canadian Junior Hockey Championships Memorial Cup final in Saskatoon on May 26, 2013.

TODD KOROL/REUTERS

The Saskatchewan government is taking a hit of about $668,000 on the Memorial Cup junior hockey championship held in Saskatoon last May.

The province has just approved payment to the Canadian Hockey League because the event didn't meet a profit guarantee of $3.5-million that was made when Saskatoon bid to hold the championship.

"The Memorial Cup was a successful event," Tim McMillan, minister responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan, said Monday.

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"It raised a profit, but not all the way to what the guarantee was. So with the financial statements being finalized, the city of Saskatoon and the government of Saskatchewan have now followed on with our commitments."

McMillan says the hockey tournament made about $2.5-million and was one of the best attended ever.

Organizers said after the tournament that the 2013 Memorial Cup had the fourth-highest attendance total in championship history at 82,503 over nine games. The average attendance per game of 9,167 ranked fifth.

The province also put up $250,000 to upgrade rink boards and glass, bringing the total it spent on the Memorial Cup closer to $918,000.

McMillan said it's not unusual for events to ask for a profit guarantee.

"Some models come forward with an upfront grant, like the Junos. They asked for a $1.5-million grant, regardless of success of the event," he said.

"Different events, such as the World Juniors, come forward with a profit guarantee. We were fortunate in the world juniors that they surpassed the guarantee mark and there was no follow on investment required from the government of Saskatchewan."

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Saskatchewan was host to the world junior hockey championship in 2010. Regina held the Junos in 2013.

McMillan said playing host to the Memorial Cup was good for tourism and for showcasing the province. He also said the event generated about $11-million in economic spinoff for Saskatoon. In short, it was worth it.

"If the bid committee came to Tourism Saskatchewan and said, 'We would like to host a Memorial Cup. There's an upfront grant of about $900,000 to host a week-long event that has a national exposure, that brings the number of tourism and economic benefits to our province and to the city of Saskatoon,' would we consider an upfront grant, straight away, of $900,000?" he said.

"Yes, it would certainly be within range of the types of events and at the grant amount that we would normally be looking at very seriously."

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