michelle collens e

WJC Playmakers: Michelle Collens

The senior manager of sport hosting with the City of Vancouver talks about working with the Playmakers group, and maximizing the impact of the World Juniors in Vancouver

Jessica Gowans
August 31, 2018

Leading in to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship the host committee has formed the Playmakers group, bringing together business leaders from across B.C. to serve as event ambassadors and strategic advisors, as well as serving as a connection to local partners and businesses in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Playmakers will help share the message from Hockey Canada and the host committee, and support initiatives around community engagement and the benefits of hosting the World Juniors in their backyard.

This time, sat down with Michelle Collens, senior manager of sport hosting with the City of Vancouver.

Q: Why is it important for you to be involved in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship?

MC: We had a vision here in Vancouver of what we wanted to host. Having the experience of the 2010 Games behind us, and later, having the great success of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we were looking towards the future as to what next big events could Vancouver host and celebrate and do really well. As part of our vision, and connecting with the local hockey community, and working with [co-chairs] Ron Toigo and Barry Petrachenko, we pulled the bid together and sought success and being able to do that story telling. The importance to the city, and for myself, being a part of it is to make sure that we execute, and we exceed expectations from what was delivered in that bid book, to make sure that the World Juniors will be the best ever that’s been hosted but also connected back to the community.

Q: Why is Vancouver the right city to co-host the World Juniors?

MC: We claim ourselves as being the gold-medal city for Hockey Canada, having success in the 2006 hosting of the World Juniors and winning gold, then 2010 hosting both men’s and women’s gold medals, so we figure that we’re a gold-medal arena for Hockey Canada. Meeting all of our targets when it came to ticket sales and making the event accessible to our community has really been able to launch it, and to have the success now of us being able to dream of what the legacy is going to be as opposed to sitting back and trying to figure out how to market the event. It’s allowed us to dive in a little bit deeper to what the community engagement pieces will be and celebrate more of what is going on outside the arena at the same time.

Q: Based on previous major events, what impact will the World Juniors have on Vancouver?

MC: First and foremost, I think the impact in the legacy to the community; we’re a hockey town, and we will make sure the arena is full the whole time. At that time of year, it’s amazing for the community to come together and celebrate. I think the other greater impact is the tourism aspect – a greater opportunity for us to share this event with the province. The bid was situated so it was Vancouver and Victoria, and then in addition, the impact is even ten times greater because it’s also celebrated in other parts of the province with either Summer Showcase or the pre-tournament camps. Sure, Vancouver is hosting, but I think all of B.C. contributes to it. With it being B.C. Hockey’s 100th anniversary, I think it was a no-brainer for us to celebrate that provincial tour with them, and have the tournament culminate that whole celebration for them, too.

Q: How do the World Juniors fit into the Sport Hosting model?

MC: You couldn’t have picked a better event in the sense of the timing of year and a neat period for tourism. We know we’re good at hosting the World Juniors, we know we have the capacity, we know the interest of the public is there, and so we strategically went after the 2019 event to align with B.C. Hockey’s 100th anniversary knowing there would be a story and a purpose for the event at the same time. So, it really fit the strategy of bringing not only the tourism economic impact opportunity but also at the same time, the legacy that we wanted to leave behind with the community in making sure everybody was engaged with it.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Playmakers group?

MC: It was our vision to bring this together. It was to bring new leaders in our community together to identify opportunities through major events. We have some faces who were familiar with what happened in 2006, but we also have a lot of new faces that haven’t been involved with Hockey Canada events in the past. There’s some new blood coming in to it that can give us some energy and some strength, and also just look at it from a different perspective. We wanted our Playmakers to represent the membership of B.C. Hockey, but also the citizens that are going to be celebrating this game. For me, it’s about that community engagement and dialogue as to how can we make this better, how can we take it to the next level and allowing every kind of demographic in our community to have that voice, to be able to identify what it means to them.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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