The Little Native Hockey League annual event is getting support from West Nipissing council.

Council is buying a $2,500 sponsorship to next year’s tournament which takes place in Mississauga from March 15 to 19.

Nipissing First Nation is hosting the latest tournament.

In a letter to council, NFN Chief Scott McLeod says the LNHL began in 1971 and featured about 200 players.

But the event has grown so much over the decades that it had a record-breaking 200 plus teams in 2019.

Council heard that when the annual event was held in Sudbury a while back a major concern was where to put the thousands of hockey players.

Council was told that for that event, hotels in North Bay were booked for the Sudbury event because there weren’t enough hotel rooms in the Nickel City.

Staff told council the LNHL has gotten so big it has outgrown Northern Ontario and that’s why the decision was made to hold the 49th annual tournament in Mississauga.

The sponsorship levels go as high as $50,000 but council debated whether it should sponsor a $2,500 or $5,000 package.

Mayor Joanne Savage was concerned that sponsoring the event might result in backlash from hockey teams in West Nipissing.

Savage said there are many teams in West Nipissing that council doesn’t sponsor.

She said if council starts sponsoring sports clubs not in their own backyard a lot of local people will be upset.

Savage acknowledged that NFN is a good neighbour and both work well together on various initiatives.

Councillor Lise Senecal expressed a concern that making a contribution to the LNHL would set a precedent.

However, councillor Dan Roveda told his colleagues that NFN was not asking for support of a team.

Roveda said it was asking to support the actual event.

He compared the request to when West Nipissing held the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in September and NFN made a contribution to the IPM.

Staff told council that 10,000 people will be taking in the March tournament and for a sponsorship, the municipality will get good recognition.

Stephan Poulin, the Director of Economic Development and Community Services, added the event will get a lot of play on social media and the LNHL website which means West Nipissing will get some notice.

Poulin told council that’s a lot of marketing for the amount of money the municipality would be spending.

Roveda favoured a $5,000 sponsorship while councillor Yvon Duhaime suggested $1,000.

But with the majority of council in favour of the $2,500 package, that’s the amount everyone settled upon.