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When Alberta’s capital city was selected as one of two hub cities for the 2020 National Hockey League season, and the destination of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Explore Edmonton knew it would be an enormous task to undertake successfully.

Organizers worked closely with Alberta Health, government, Edmonton International Airport, Canada Border Services, hotel staff, the Oilers Entertainment Group, and many other partners to make it happen.

Roger's Place Edmonton

Rogers Place Edmonton NHL

For four months, Rogers Place arena, the public plaza and JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District were home to hundreds of NHL players, coaches, and staff. With a priority on health and safety, the NHL season was able to happen successfully and was broadcast to millions of people around the world.

Edmonton, NHL Hub City 2020

“Harnessing the power of partnerships was taken to a whole new level,” says Katie Kennedy, Explore Edmonton’s Event Development Manager.

“From a marketing lens, being able to showcase Edmonton in all her glory during the summer – that’s not typically a season fans or viewers get to see, because normally that regular hockey season is occurring during the winter months,” Kennedy says. “You really can’t put a price tag on that level of exposure we were provided.”

Kennedy adds some positives have come from the pandemic, like strengthening partnerships from coast to coast to coast, and around the world. “Now that Edmonton has hosted two successful bubbles, that’s opened the doors for new opportunities,” she says, noting that Explore Edmonton has received hundreds of calls from partners hoping to learn how they, too, can host safe, successful events.

Kennedy says Explore Edmonton is happy to share their knowledge, best practices and research with partners including Tourism Calgary, which just added the 2021 World Women’s Curling Championship to its curling bubble.


We all need to be there and lean on one another, because we really want to see [the live events] industry come back. Alberta is in a really great position right now. We’re proving ourselves as this dominating sports hub.

Katie Kennedy, Event Development Manager, Explore Edmonton

Indeed – Edmonton will be hosting the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships again this December. And, event organizers are looking forward to what might be possible this summer.

“There are some really interesting things we’re working on and hopefully people will see some really cool opportunities,” says Kennedy. “We’re really fortunate that there is willingness here in Edmonton, even during these uncertain times, to say ‘Let’s figure it out. Let’s take that smart risk.’ I think that’s really a testament to Edmontonians and what our city stands for.”

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