While the Rugby World Cup 2011 may been the biggest casualty of the Christchurch earthquake for canterbrians, all is not lost.
Encouraged by Prince William’s visit to the earthquake-affected Canterbury, the promoters of International Ice Hockey USA vs Canada have decided to go ahead with the event.
“I do not care if I have to fly them in one hour before the game and out again after, If Prince William feels safe then so should they,” says event promoter Craig Douglas. “Over 150 events between 22 February 2011 (the day of the quake) and Christmas have been pulled out of Christchurch City Council venues and parks.”
The 28-year old second-in-line to the British throne followed his Christchurch visit by meeting the families of the 29 men killed in the Pike River mine disaster, before crossing the Tasman to see flood-devastated areas of Victoria and Queensland in Australia.
The Prince’s visit provided the much-needed confidence to the promoters of the International Ice Hockey’s game two which is set for Christchurch’s CBS Arena on 30 July.
Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city and the largest in the South Island. Regarded as the most English of cities, Christchurch is situated on the east coast of the South Island.
The venue is not affected by the earthquake and the promoters see no reason for Christchurch residents to miss out on the action sport event of the year.
It’s not about making money, says Douglas.
“It’s about giving the people of Christchurch our support and giving the city and residents back some energy and excitement.
“It’s about giving them something to look forward to.”
The promoters expect the event to provide a NZ$2 million boost to the economy, which may not be much internationally; however for a small economy that was already suffering from recession, this could be a welcome relief for not just Christchurch, but for New Zealand.
Bringing the international series to Christchurch is not without its problems; the North American tour directors are cautious about letting their NZ$100 million product come to a broken city.
“I do not care if I have to fly them in one hour before the game and out again after, If Prince William feels safe then so should they,” Douglas says.
Kerry Goulet, a tour commentator says that Ice Hockey is one of the hardest and fastest sports on earth and that he believes that Cantabrians are a tough bunch and will enjoy that action.
International Ice Hockey promoters are going the extra mile to make this a “real” American Ice Hockey experience with extreme sound and lighting, big screen TVs, action replays and live American announcers.
With the ice floor fresh off the boat from the Netherlands as the first ever fully portable NHL spec ice floor in Australasia, it will be a spectacular display of Ice Hockey entertainment.
In the meantime, the prince has returned to the UK in time for his wedding to Kate Middleton on 29 April.