World Junior Hockey Championships returning to Alberta in 2021
Hockey Canada has announced Edmonton and Red Deer will co-host the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.
Hockey Canada made the announcement at Rogers Place on Thursday morning, alongside Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and vice-chairman Bob Nicholson, Red Deer Rebels owner Brent Sutter and Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda.
Hockey Canada president Scott Smith said it was a two-year process to select a host.
“Through that selection process we certainly identified the home of the Edmonton Oilers as a place where we wanted to be,” Smith said.
“We recognized as well that the completion of the Ice District in its entirety would certainly benefit and lead to greater success for the event.”
Tickets will be available to Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Rebels season seat holders in the spring, and will be made available to the general public at a later date.
“It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be great for the province and to the two cities, Edmonton and Red Deer. We’re going to make this special,” Nicholson said.
“To me, it’s about the game itself, about what it brings to our grassroots,” Sutter said. “I’ve obviously been a part of World Juniors as a coach back in ’05. Bob and I worked together in ’05 and again in ’06 and again in ’14, and there’s nothing like World Juniors at Christmas time.”
The provincial government said it has committed $2.25 million for the tournament.
“Alberta’s towns and cities have long hosted international tournaments and we will make the 2021 World Juniors an event that we can all be very proud of,” Miranda said.
“These championships will increase tourism to the tune of over $75 million in economic activity.”
The City of Edmonton said $57 million of that total will be centred in the capital city.
The CEO of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation said there’s a model used to calculate economic benefit to a city based on the number of rooms and nights visitors stay for an event.
“The economic impact is a big part of it but as you can tell, there’s a community impact that goes way beyond the numbers,” Derek Hudson said.
“Just in terms of community pride, getting kids interested in sports and entertainment for the citizens… It’s a win-win-win as far as I’m concerned.”
Hudson is looking forward to a spotlight being focused on Edmonton’s new downtown district.
“I think it’s world-class,” he said. “We want people all over the world to see this when the junior championships are on and then come check us out any time.
“We’re talking about Ice District and the kind of stuff that can happen on the street during the week — it’s going to be amazing.”
Red Deer’s mayor said there may be some minor infrastructure improvements to the ENMAX Centrium rink, but most of the support will come from sponsorships, volunteering, and ticket sales.
“When you look at some of the recent major sport events that we’ve hosted, they are absolute catalysts for community building and community spirit,” Tara Veer said.
Edmonton’s chief economist doesn’t want the benefits to be over-anticipated. A lot of the people interested in attending the junior hockey games may already live in Edmonton.
“Is that really a net benefit to the economy?” John Rose asked.
“It’s a net benefit if it’s in the arena. It’s a net benefit to the guys downtown… Really, what you need to look for when someone says they’re gonna sponsor an event in Edmonton, the next question should be how many people from outside Edmonton will it attract? How long are they going to come and how long are they going to stay here?
“If the answer is half the people are going to be coming from the province, around Canada or internationally, and they’re going to be here for four days, that’s a good deal, right? Because that means a lot of incremental cash coming into the Edmonton economy and it’s an opportunity to show off the city,” Rose said.
Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said the organization will look at having other Alberta communities hosting pre-tournament games.
The two Alberta cities are no strangers to international hockey events.
Edmonton and Red Deer hosted the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August. The eight-team, under-18 tournament featured 10 games at Rogers Place, two games at the Edmonton’s Downtown Community Arena and six games at Servus Arena in Red Deer.
It was the first year the tournament was hosted by Edmonton and Red Deer, which will have it every second year for the next four years, with the odd years taking place in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Edmonton and Calgary hosted the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2012, and the two cities, along with Red Deer, hosted the under-20 tournament in 1995.
Vancouver and Victoria are hosting the upcoming World Juniors. The Czech Republic is hosting the 2020 tournament.
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