My hometown of Quebec City (QC, Canada), after some doubts about whether the personnel in place could handle the organization of the event, will host the 2008 IIHF World Men's Hockey Championship from May 2nd to May 18th, 2008. The town Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) will host 26 round-robin games of its own.
This 16-team event will be held outside of Europe for the first time since 1962 and will also mark the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which wanted to celebrate this occasion by playing in the country where organized ice hockey was born.
The tournament will also serve as the qualifying round for the men's hockey competition at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be presented in Vancouver (British Columbia, BC). The top nine teams will be qualified for the international event.
The economic impact on the region, where thousands of hotel rooms have already been booked, is supposed to be as high as 84 M$ and if the event is a success, the IIHF could be tempted to hold the event in North America on a more regular basis.
To show the importance of such events and their positive financial impact on a community, here's the press release by the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance following the 2006 World Junior Championships held in Kelowna, Kamloops and Vancouver (all from British Columbia, Canada):
The event generated an estimated economic activity of $41.0 million in the province of British Columbia. These totals resulted from $22.8 million in combined operations, capital and visitors spending. The event contributed over $21.7 million to the provincial GDP. A total of $8.1 million in wages and salaries were paid in the province, supporting 275 jobs. The total level of taxes received by all levels of governments as a result of the event was estimated to be approximately $4.6 million, distributed as follows:
- $2.0 million accrued to the federal government
- $2.0 million to the Province of British Columbia
- $564,000 to municipal governments.
The event involved 316 participants from 10 countries, nearly 500 media, and attracted a combined total of approximately 26,000 out of town spectators and VIPs to the three host cities.
The 2006 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship clearly show how attracting major sport events to B.C. can pay off in spades â€“ both for the host communities and the whole province," said Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Olga Ilich.
The international competitions also help at the amateur level, with USA Hockey announcing in 2005 that they had made a profit after hosting the event in Grand Forks (North Dakota), the first time in four years. From ESPN:
"This one's a whole different level financially compared to the other ones we've hosted," said Jim Johannson, senior director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, which also hosted the world championship in 1982 (Minneapolis), 1989 (Anchorage, Alaska) and 1996 (Boston).
When the event was held in Nova Scotia in 2003, it generated a record $3.7 million for hockey programs in Canada, where the sport is more popular. Officials south of the border are trying to raise awareness of the sport, and say national media coverage on ESPN of this year's tournament should help raise its profile.
The $800,000 guarantee to USA hockey, along with any other profits, will go toward amateur hockey programs, including the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association and Minnesota Hockey.
USA Hockey is getting 80 percent of the profits from ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships and television rights, said Chris Semrau, a spokesman for Ralph Engelstad Arena.
For an organization like USA Hockey, such cash infusions are very important to help showcase the game at the amateur level, especially at a time when only 4% of adults following more than one sport considered hockey their favorite, according to a Harris poll in January 2007.
Dave Rouleau is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network