Regina, Saskatoon city councils approve funding for potential world junior championship

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Regina and Saskatoon one step closer to potentially hosting IIHF world junior championship
Regina city council and Saskatoon city council both approved funding requests for a potential IIHF world junior championship – Apr 1, 2022

Regina and Saskatoon are one step closer to potentially hosting the International Ice Federation Hockey (IIHF) 2023 world junior championship after both city councils approved funding requests.

Tourism Saskatoon and Tourism Regina announced earlier this week that they are planning to submit a joint-bid proposal to host the tournament.

IIHF is looking for a location to host the event that takes place from Dec. 26, 2022, to Jan. 5, 2023, after they revoked Russia’s hosting rights due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Regina City Council members voted 8-1 to approve a $350,000 funding request.

The one abstaining vote, Ward 9 councillor Jason Mancinelli, said he voted against as an April fools joke.

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“I wouldn’t really vote against it so this is really lame attempt at an April fools joke,” Mancinelli said. “I’m totally for it.”

Saskatoon city council voted unanimously to approve a similar $350,000 funding request.

Tourism Saskatoon CEO Stephanie Clovechok said she didn’t have any doubts about funding being approved.

“I think that it’s very obvious in the way that our administration came together in collaboration with City Council and the way that they were willing to see this through,” Clovechok said.

A core group of 15 people have been meeting multiple times a day and gathering information over the last few days to make this proposal a reality for the province.

The funding approval will be added to the bid for the IIHF to line up with their requirements to host a Hockey Canada tournament.

“We have to demonstrate all levels of government’s funding, corporate sector sponsorship, and all the details that are required for our destination,” Clovechok said.

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There is some competition for the hosting rights coming from other major cities such as Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City and Halifax.

However, with dual city collaboration, many believe Regina and Saskatoon’s bid will be hard to turn down.

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“The way in which we host events which over and over and over again are recognized as world class if not, definitely some of the best in Canada, that I think we can pull it off,” Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said Friday.

“Hockey runs through our veins in Saskatchewan,” Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said.

“We have no doubt that when we have a chance to have the best junior teams in the world and the best players in the world come together, people are going to be really excited to come and watch and cheer on Canada,” Clark added.

The business plan and event bid submission to Hockey Canada are due on April 4.

“We really want to bring this home to Saskatchewan so we’re gonna be really integrated with one another over the next few days so we put our best foot forward on behalf of the province on Monday,” Clovechok said.

An official decision on where the event will be hosted is expected on April 25 and April 26.

When both cities last hosted the world junior championship in 2010, Regina city council provided $250,000 in funding and Saskatoon city council allocated $500,000.

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If the two cities win the bid this year, Regina is expected to lobby to host some pre-tournament games and the Pool B games whereas Saskatoon is expected to host Pool A games and medal games.

Tourism Regina and Tourism Saskatoon said there is also potential for some games to be held in municipalities such as Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) president and CEO Tim Reid explained SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon is larger than the Brandt Centre in Regina, therefore they can sell more tickets.

“When we requested equal funding this was our request of the City of Regina to say ‘let’s make a statement as a province and two cities that we want this to come here,’” Reid said.

“I think that any notion that ‘hey Team Canada if they make the final that will be in Saskatoon’ is not as important as the entire three-week experience,” Masters added.

“I think you heard from council in terms of activating the entire city, I think this something that the City of Regina will completely wrap it’s hands around.”

While the size of the Brandt Centre may not help Regina get Pool A games, Reid said it does help the overall bid for the tournament since it’s cheaper to rent compared to an NHL arena.

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REAL has been looking into the possibility of building a new arena in the future.

”As thrilled as I am to host the B pool in Regina I hope I never have to host the B pool in the world juniors ever again in Regina. Our hope going through the process with the Brandt Centre is that we build a world class competitive mid-sized multipurpose event centre here in Regina,” Reid said.

As for potential ticket sales and tourism opportunities, Reid said the impact of this opportunity “should not be missed.”

“This is literally compressing an entire CFL home schedule in one month and that’s pretty spectacular if you think about what that will do for the economics of this province.”

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