The Vancouver Giants announced this afternoon that they will be hosting their annual Teddy Bear Toss game at Rogers Arena, the home of the Vancouver Canucks, on December 8th at 4pm when they take on the Tri-City Americans.
This will be the first time the Giants have played a home game at an arena not named the Pacific Coliseum or Langley Events Centre.
Last season was the first time the club experimented with having the marquee game at a bigger facility since the move to Langley, also on December 8th, when they defeated division rival, the Victoria Royals, 2-1 in overtime in front of 9,385 people in attendance. Giants fans waited all but 1:19 of regulation to send their teddies flying when newly-signed Colorado Avalanche prospect Bowen Byram put one past now-graduated Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse — the second consecutive year Byram was the one to do so.
The change of venue, as well as the partnership with the Canucks, should vastly improve and grow the contributions made towards local children’s charities such as the CKNW Orphans’ Fund and the Province Empty Stocking Fund in years past.
All the proceeds from the game’s 50/50 tickets and the teddy bears bought at the game will be donated directly to charity — more people, bigger win for children in need.
Team Majority Owner, Governor and President Ron Toigo expressed his excitement surrounding this afternoon’s announcement:
“We’re happy to partner with the Vancouver Canucks for this initiative. The Teddy Bear Toss has always been one of our marquee events, and hosting the event this year at Rogers Arena will only add to the excitement and mystique of the game” (courtesy of vancouvergiants.com)
It will be interesting to see how having an NHL team/arena to help market the game will affect the amount of people attending.
As previously mentioned, there were just shy of 10,000 people last year in a building that seats over 16,000, but take into consideration the Giants were marketing that on their own. This season, they will be going even bigger in an arena that can seat 18,910 for an NHL game.
WHL teams, such as the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen, who share facilities with their cities’ NHL clubs, draw about full capacity (over 18,000) for their Teddy Bear Toss games year after year — the highest number in the league by thousands of people.
Last year’s game at the Coliseum showed there is still an appetite for junior hockey in the Lower Mainland, most likely with the help of the Giants being a contending team again after a handful of dark years.
Of course, there will always be a side of people against having such a prime time game being taken away from those in and around Langley who support the team nightly.
Yes, the Langley area has done a wonderful job of supporting the team and creating an amazing atmosphere (i.e. the 2019 playoff run) since its move from Vancouver, and yes, it is very understandable to feel unappreciated with an announcement like this.
But think of it this way…
The Langley Events Centre has a maximum capacity of 5,276 for hockey, more than 4,000 fewer seats than the number of people that attended last year’s game at the Coliseum. That extra attendance creates hundreds if not thousands of more dollars for local charities off of proceeds from both the 50/50 and the teddy bears sold.
Now, of course, it is not a guarantee that Rogers Arena will be sold out on December 8th, but what can be guaranteed is there will be more people than the LEC can host. Sitting in a bit more traffic or having to drive further for one of the 34 home games is worth what having a bigger venue can do for an event such as this.
What’s Next for the Giants:
The Vancouver Giants 2019 Training Camp got underway today with the annual headshots, as well as the off-ice fitness testing, and the camp will conclude on Sunday morning with the Legends Cup game. I, unfortunately, will not be able to attend camp due to prior arrangements, but stay tuned for an offseason recap as the Giants look to start their preseason next week when they head down to Everett for a mini tournament. During the weekend, they play three games in three nights (all in Everett), starting with a game against Seattle on Friday, Portland on Saturday, and capping it off on Sunday morning with a 2019 Western Conference Final rematch against the Spokane Chiefs.