Puckarinen Hits A Post
by Puckarinen on 11/15/11 at 10:08 PM ET
In six months, Sweden and Finland will co-host the 2012 World Championships. Hartwall Areena in Helsinki is the main venue, and therefore the host for the final rounds of the tournament, while the Globe Arena in Sweden will host the group that Sweden plays its preliminary round games - as well as the quarterfinals.
In 2013, the roles will be reversed, and Stockholm will be the main venue, and Helsinki the other one.
This way, both Finland and Sweden will get to play most of the next World Championships on home ice – which is nice.
Most years, the teams playing in the secondary venue, the one where the host team doesn’t play in, get to do so in half-full arenas, especially if Russia, or Latvia, or Denmark isn’t playing there, and bringing their happy, happy, happy fans with them.
Next year’s tournament won’t have that problem. Team Finland packs the arena in Helsinki and Team Sweden does the same in Sweden. The secondary venue hit a jackpot this time, as both Russia and Latvia play in Sweden, as well as Denmark and Norway, making it easy for the fans from the neighbouring countries to join the hockeyfest.
And that’s what the tournament is: a hockey festival, a carnival, an annual party for hockey lovers around th world.
The 2012 tournament is already legen - wait for it - dary for its mascot, the Hockey Bird, the hockey-playing character straight out of the Finnish hit game Angry Birds, but the home-ice Worlds have always pushed hockey in Finland, often marking the beginning of a whole new era.
In 1965, when Finland hosted the tournament for the first time, they did so in Tampere’s brand new arena, the first indoor arena of the country. In 1974, Finland beat Czechoslovakia twice, but only one can be found in the record books. Team Finland goaltender’s doping sample contained ephedrine, and the win was overturned into a loss. With that win in the standings, Finland would have won its first-ever medal, a bronze.
By 1982, in Wayne Gretzky’s only World Championship tournament, Finland had their own North American pro players for the first time. In 1991, the tournament was played in another new arena, built to host the tournament, in Turku. In 1997, the tournament was played in Helsinki again, and once again, in a new arena that was finished just months before the tournament. In 2003, well, if nothing else, the tournament did turn a neat five-million-euro profit for the Finnish federation.
Of course, the Worlds are also a money maker for the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the federations of the organizing countries. The sums are big, for the federations, even if they may not be as big as many people think. For the Finnish federation, the 1997 tournament was even more profitable than the 2003 one, sending seven million euro their way.
Originally, Finland had won the bid to host the 2012 tournament, and Sweden 2013, but by joining forces, they can make the pie even bigger. Also, Finland’s waited nine years to host the Worlds, Sweden ten - or eleven, depending on whether you count the 2012 tournament as theirs or not - as they lasted hosted the tournament in 2002.
The cash is welcome. The sooner the better.
But with new hockey nations on the rise, Sweden and Finland may have to wait even longer for their next turn. The 2014 tournament will be played in Minsk, Belarus - a first - the 2015 tournament in the Czech Republic, and the 2016 Worlds in Russia.
The Czechs will have waited 11 years, the Russians nine.
In September, the IIHF announced that Denmark, France, Germany, and Latvia are applicants for the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Hungary has also made a bid to host the worlds in the past, and Slovakia, the 2011 hosts, will soon be bidding again, as will Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
Maybe co-hosting is the answer. Maybe that’s what Denmark and Norway or Austria and Hungary should go for.
It’d be better than nothing.
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About Puckarinen Hits A Post
Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer, based in Stockholm, Sweden.
That's right, he's deep behind the enemy lines. He's also a regular contributor to IIHF.com, NHL.com, The Hockey News, and several publications in Finland and Sweden. He's also covered four World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for the IIHF.
And since he foolishly hoisted the Stanley Cup in his twenties, he wakes up every morning knowing he will never be able to win it.