It was exciting to see the enthusiasm generated at an early June press conference at Town Toyota Center announcing the Wenatchee Wild joining the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). Ever since the team was formed several years ago, it has been a talked-about move that has so many positives. From a sports tourism standpoint, it has the potential to move the meter due to the much closer proximity of the teams, as a vast majority of BCHL franchises are in the southern portion of BC. Marketing efforts are already being planned to entice visiting fans to come south of the border. And I’m sure that will be reciprocal with many Wild fans planning a weekend or two to follow the team on the road. Affiliation with the NAHL served its purpose, but when your division ‘rivals’ are in Alaska, Kansas and Texas, somethings just not right. BCHL executives have long been impressed not only with the Wild organization and the outstanding facility in which they call home, but also the fan base. This past season, the Wild were 2nd in the NAHL in attendance out of 24 teams, more than 14,000 ahead of #3 Amarillo. The BCHL truly is where the franchise belongs.Also last week, we received official confirmation that The US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals will be returning here in October 2016. This will mark the 2nd time in 3 years that the Wenatchee Valley will be awarded this prestigious competition. The announcement from US Figure Skating was the result of a collaborative bid process that involved The Wenatchee Figure Skating Club, Town Toyota Center and Wenatchee Valley Sports. There will be nine regionals nationwide, in locations such as Scottsdale AZ, Ogden UT and Lansing MI. The fact that USFG officials were highly impressed with the organizational efforts of our local club and the Town Toyota Center facility itself during last fall’s competition played a major role in their unusual decision to award a return here so soon.Also, the renovation of the Apple Bowl is well underway. Among the improvements is the installation of new field turf, new lights and expanded and refurbished locker rooms. The field will be lined not only for football, but soccer and lacrosse as well, giving those sports a much-needed quality facility. The new turf will allow the field to be used more regularly, without the fear of turf damage from overuse or bad weather. This is a great addition for locals, and will be an attractive asset in the world of tournament recruitment. Much needed improvements are also planned at Recreation Park this summer. Good news indeed!Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or

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