Frontenacs make moves for next year as city council considers Memorial Cup bid funding

The Kingston Frontenacs are one of four OHL teams vying to host the 2024 Memorial Cup, and the team's moves ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline could help set the team up to be competitive ahead of next year's tournament.

On Monday the team traded the NHL's 4th overall pick Shane Wright to Windsor, fresh off a gold medal with Canada at the World Juniors after stints with Seattle and their AHL affiliate. 

Kingston followed that up by trading 19 year old defenceman Braden Hache to the Barrie Colts for five draft picks, and dealing Jackson Stewart to Owen Sound for 17 year old defenceman Cal Uens, a native of Napanee. 

For Wright, Kingston is receiving seven picks, defenceman Gavin McCarthy (currently committed to Boston College for next season), and Ethan Miedema - a 17 year old forward selected fourth overall in 2021 and projected to be picked in the second round of the 2023 NHL draft. 

Miedema and Uens both already suited up for Kingston in their Wednesday loss to Ottawa. 

While Kingston sits in a playoff spot at the moment, their moves leading up to the trade deadline mostly shift the focus to the near future. 

The Saginaw Spirit, Niagara Ice Dogs, and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are the three other teams hoping to play host to the Memorial Cup in 2024, welcoming the top teams from the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL. 

Both the Spirit and Ice Dogs were also active on Tuesday's deadline setting themselves up for a more competitive next season and beyond.

Saginaw also has Michael Misa, the 2022 first overall pick granted exceptional status. 

With Kingston adding a boatload of draft picks along with Uens and Miedema, a forward who could be among the OHL's best next season, they strengthen their 2023/24 roster and with it their bid to host the CHL's top tournament. 

The Frontenacs will officially submit their bid ahead of the January 31 deadline, looking to host the tournament for the first time in its over 100 year history. 

The ten day undertaking can't just be handled by the team itself however, and as noted by their announcement in November the Frontenacs' bid needs support from the City of Kingston, Tourism Kingston and other community partners. 

Next Tuesday, Kingston City Council will discuss a recommendation from city staff to support the team's bid with a total contribution of roughly $635,000. 

The money from the city would include $374,000 for staffing, facilities, and equipment, and $261,000 in direct costs which the report says could come from the city's Working Fund Reserve. 

The money allotted would only be needed if Kingston is successfully chosen as the host city. 

While the operation comes at a significant cost, host cities generally see a boost from the tournament, with this year's host Kamloops estimating the value for the city to be "between $12 and $14 million".

The 2019 tournament in Halifax brought almost 19,000 people to the city. 

In the report to council, city staff say the event typically has a budget of approximately $13.5 million and projects to attract over 55,000 spectators for an economic impact of $20.4 million. 

The report to council outlines financial contributions involved with previous successful bids, as well as contributions from competing cities in Sault Ste. Marie and St. Catharines that currently sit slightly lower than that proposed to Kingston city council, $300,000 and $360,000 respectively. 

Tourism Kingston will also be seeking support through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport's Marquee fund, as a Memorial Cup bid clearly meets the criteria for the fund. 

The successful bid will be announced in March.

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative