January 15, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 58  

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London competing for 2006 World Junior Hockey

By Ian Denomme

Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo
BEHOLD GRAVITY, IN ALL ITS GLORY. Or rather, the John Labatt Centre. Hockey fans are hoping the venue will play host to the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships.

One of the biggest international hockey tournaments in the world may be coming to London.

A joint bid between London/Kitchener was announced as one of the five Canadian finalists to host the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2006.

The tournament was last held in Canada in 2003 when Halifax hosted the Under-20 event. Now London/Kitchener, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Ottawa and Quebec City are in the running to host the event once again.

The John Labatt Centre would host all of Team Canada’s games, as well as the bronze medal and gold medal games. Kitchener’s Memorial Auditorium would host games in other pools.

Originally, 11 Canadian cities had made bids to host the tournament, but on Monday Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto were all eliminated.

“The time and resources demonstrated in each of the 11 bid proposals we received were outstanding and certainly the best quality that Hockey Canada has seen in the bidding process for international events in Canada, which made the decision a very difficult one for the selection committee,” said Scott Smith, of Hockey Canada, in a press release.

In London, 7,000 ticket packages have been pre-sold for the 9,100 seat JLC and it’s expected that if they were the winning bid, both arenas would be sold out before the tournament even begins. The tournament would start in December 2005 and run until early January 2006.

Having already sold so many ticket packages both in London and Kitchener was an important factor in being named one of the finalists, said John Winston of Tourism London and a member of London’s bid committee.

“It’s difficult to know what put us ahead because we are not privy to the information of the other bids, but there are three main elements which aided our bid,” Winston said.

“The community interest clearly demonstrates that it will be a sellout; we’ve come up with an excellent business plan and our bid ensures that the hockey experience will be significant and meaningful for all the teams.”

After each city gives a formal presentation to the selection committee, the final winning announcement will be made no later than Jan. 30. The winning bid must then be approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Hosting the tournament would also have a significant impact on London’s economy.

“We expect that there would be over 3,000 additional visitors to the city which translates into more accommodations and other ancillary services. Halifax reported a surplus of $20 million and we would expect to achieve or surpass that,” Winston said.

The JLC has been called the best major hockey venue in North America and Winston believes the quality of the venues and the hockey tradition in each city will ultimately put them ahead of the other cities when the final announcement is made.



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