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Kraft and NHL conduct online search to find Hockeyville USA

Towns across the U.S. can now contend for the coveted title of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017, and enter for a chance to host an NHL preseason game televised live on NBCSN. The contest is also offering something a little more substantial than publicity: the winning community will receive $150,000 for arena upgrades.

"Kraft Hockeyville USA celebrates the passion and unity of hockey communities across America," said a Kraft Heinz spokesperson. "The bonds families form through local and youth sports make our communities stronger. 

"Hockey arenas, like all sports facilities, are gathering places for kids to learn, play and compete, and Kraft Heinz believes that kids? development today builds better communities for tomorrow."

Kraft Hockeyville
The goal of the campaign is to find the ten communities across the U.S. that exhibit the most pride, passion and love for the game of hockey.

The contest touts a number of high-profile partners, including the National Hockey League, National Hockey League Players? Association, NBC Sports Group and USA Hockey. A formal announcement will be made during NBC?s broadcast of the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor game between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Jeremy Roenick, former NHL player and current NHL analyst for NBC, is back as program ambassador. 

The contest will be held primarily online, and will be available on mobile channels through the contest?s mobile-optimized Web site

Like a hockey game, Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017 has three periods. In the first period, communities across the country are encouraged to enter by sharing unique stories about their local rink, teams, hockey spirit and passion and submitting their nominations now through March 10 on the campaign?s Web site, where complete contest rules and nomination applications are available.

The competition heats up in the second period when 10 community finalists will be chosen, which includes three rounds of public voting: in Round 1, the top four communities are chosen to move on to the next round, the remaining six each receiving $10,000 toward arena upgrades.

In Round 2, the top two finalists are selected, and the remaining two will each receive $25,000 toward arena upgrades.

In Round 3, one community will emerge as Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017, and the runner-up will receive $75,000 toward arena upgrades.

In the final period, the winning community will be announced on April 29 and receive the grand prize of the chance to host an NHL preseason game televised on NBCSN, as well as $150,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft Heinz.

Sports partnerships
The NHL has been a surprisingly hot commodity for marketers looking to find their way into sports partnerships: Reebok Hockey is partnering with apparel retailer Lids to put on a similar socially generated contest that will send fans to the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues (see story). 

And Russell Athletic also has an eye on the high school sports market, evidenced by a recent campaign that gave coaches the opportunity to thank their outgoing seniors, the culmination of a month-long digital campaign (see story).

"Kraft Hockeyville USA has a robust social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and we will continue to share program news across social channels in 2017," the spokesperson said. "Communities across the country even create their own personal social media pages to gain attention, rally excitement and spread the word about Hockeyville events and voting. 

"Likewise, several of our iconic Kraft Heinz brands will bring Kraft Hockeyville USA to life within their individual channels. The program?s website is mobile optimized for an ideal user experience."