After a successful first run last September, the British Columbia Hockey League's Showcase event will return to Chilliwack and Prospera Centre this fall.
And while the Chilliwack Chiefs haven't yet committed to hosting the event every year, BCHL commissioner John Grisdale said the league would support the club if it wished to do so.
The first Showcase kicked off the 2012-13 BCHL schedule by having all 16 teams play a pair of regular season games each in Chilliwack.
The event was designed to give scouts the chance to see every player in the league in one convenient location. Organizers had hoped to draw 70 scouts from National Hockey League teams and major American colleges. Instead, more than 200 showed up.
While fan attendance was lower than organizers had hoped for, Chiefs president Glen Ringdal said feedback from scouts was uniformly positive, with many saying the showcase was among the very best in North America.
That had Grisdale saying that despite some interest from West Kelowna in hosting the Showcase, "it was a no-brainer" to have the event return to Chilliwack.
"Once the Chiefs let it be known they were interested in hosting, I think the consistency of having it in this location was a big relief and [West Kelowna] gladly handed over the reigns to the Chiefs," he told the Times.
While Ringdal made it clear the Chiefs had not committed to hosting the Showcase on an annual basis, Grisdale said the league wouldn't be opposed to seeing that happen.
"From my position, if the Chilliwack Chief hockey club and the city is willing to host it, we would certainly support it 110 per cent from the league office side."
Ringdal spoke last year about the effort it took to host such a large event. But on Wednesday, he said keeping the event in Chilliwack made the most sense from the point of view of a member of BCHL's board of governors.
With the Showcase still in its infancy, Ringdal said it would have been risky to move the event.
"To take it and transplant it to another city, I think would not have been the right choice," Ringdal told the Times.
He noted that Chilliwack is ideally suited for the event because of the two sheets of ice at Prospera Centre, the team's support in the community, the proximity of the city to major airports in both Vancouver and Seattle and local amenities.
"It is, quite frankly, a perfect location," he said, adding that keeping the event in Chilliwack will benefit the city's economy.
The event will attract some 500 players, team staff and scouts to town, not to mention the supporters of the clubs. An analysis by Showcase co-chair Clint Hames suggested that the event had a total economic impact of more than a half-million dollars in Chilliwack
Ringdal said there will be tweaks to packages and pricing of tickets to try and lure more out-of-town fans to the event.
There are other changes in the works too.
Ringdal said tickets to the two Chiefs games will be included in next year's season ticket package.
And the arena will erect temporary, elevated seating in Prospera Centre's secondary rink just for scouts.
The Showcase is set to run Sept. 6 to 8.