STOCKHOLM – The 2013 IIHF Annual Congress allocated the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to Cologne (Germany) and Paris (France).
The German-French bid received 63 votes from the delegates. The other bid with Copenhagen (Denmark) and Riga (Latvia) got 45 votes.
Video: Presentation Germany-France 2017
“It was quite a battle but the Danish and Latvian delegation always offered a fair competition. It was a nice experience to work together,” said Franz Reindl, the General Secretary of the German Ice Hockey Association, who is set to assume the same role in the Organizing Committee as he did in 2010.
“We are really proud about the work done and we left a great bid behind us and hope they will bid next year,” said Luc Tardif, President of the French Ice Hockey Federation and an IIHF Council member.
The committee of the Danish-Latvian bid congratulated the winners as it now refocuses to the future.
“Germany and France were strong opponents. Sometimes 100 per cent is not enough. The team behind our bid did an incredible job. We will continue and look forward,” said Henrik Bach Nielsen, President of the Danish Ice Hockey Association and an IIHF Council member.
“We were very close to winning. I wish Germany and France good luck and success,” said Kirovs Lipmans, President of the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation. “We will meet again in Riga. I’m sure about that.”
Germany and France bid together under the slogan “together for 2017”.
Cologne is a well-known venue for international hockey fans. The Lanxess Arena played host to the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in 2001 and 2010. The 1998-opened arena is the largest venue for indoor sports by capacity in Europe offering 18,500 seats for hockey.
The gold medal game in 2010 took place there in a highly successful World Championship for Germany. Currently placed tenth in the most recent World Ranking, the Germans finished in fourth place with the support of the home crowd. Something the Germans wouldn’t mind to repeat in the city of one million inhabitants.
“Both countries have a long hockey history and the federations are working closely together. A World Championship in Paris and Cologne offers a great chance to develop our sport in France, Germany and Europe,” said Uwe Harnos, President of the German Ice Hockey Association. “We are looking forward to create an outstanding event for all teams and their fans with a unique atmosphere.”
Cologne as the main venue will host one preliminary-round group, two quarter-final games, the semi-finals and medal games. The arena is in the city centre and linked to the old town and the station by train and subway.
Cologne will also host the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress while Paris is proposed as the host of the 2016 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress.
Cologne can be reached from the Cologne-Bonn airport and the nearby airports of Düsseldorf and Frankfurt offer further connections.
The Lanxess Arena in Cologne with the old town in the background. Photo courtesy of DEB
For Germany it will be the eighth World Championship on home ice while French fans haven’t seen the world tourney on their soil for a long time. France has hosted the event twice, in Chamonix 1930 and in Paris 1951 in addition to three Olympic Winter Games (1924, 1968 1992) and recent events in lower divisions.
France was away from the top division for almost four decades, but has been among the elite nations regularly since 1992 and hasn’t been relegated since getting back in 2008. France is currently ranked 14th in the IIHF World Ranking.
In France, games will be played in the most famous indoor sports venue of the country, the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in downtown Paris with a Metro station next door.
The arena was “discovered” for hockey seven years ago when the French Ice Hockey Federation started to host the French Cup Final at the venue. In each of the recent years this event has been sold out with 13,362 spectators and also international exhibition games have been hosted in the metropolis of 2.3 million inhabitants.
Opened in 1984, the arena will be renovated and expanded by 2015 so that it can offer seating for 15,000 fans for hockey games.
Paris can be reached by plane worldwide through three airports. Cologne and Paris are also linked through the countries’ high-speed railway network. Five trains a day link the cities in a journey of little more than three hours. The flight time between the cities is 75 minutes.
“In a city like Paris where hockey is normally not part of the culture it is time to host this event,” Tardif said. “It’s in two neighbouring countries but with one team of organizers.”
The city will host one preliminary-round group and two quarter-final games. The two winners will travel to Cologne for the semi-finals.
The French Cup Final in Paris-Bercy is sold out every year. Photo: Martin Merk
The vote came during the 50-year-anniversary of the Élysée Treaty for reconciliation between the two countries signed by French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963. It is also known as the Treaty of Friendship. And the German Ice Hockey Association as it is known today was founded in the same year in West Germany.
“The Germans are good organizers and the French know how to create feelings,” Harnos said about the co-hosting duo. “We’re a perfect couple and have become good friends since working together. Cologne and Paris are nice cities with great people next to each other. It will be hockey in the middle of Europe. We have a new friendship between the two countries that has historically grown.”
The cities will offer perfect hospitality for participants and fans. Cologne offers 73,000 hotel beds, Paris 111,000. Three high-class hotels in the Bercy district have been found in for the participants and also in Cologne teams will stay close to the arena and near the picturesque old town.
Both arenas were already operated with two ice rinks. The Bercy arena has a small ice rink that is operated permanently and will be used as practice rink while the Lanxess Arena has a second rink next door making it easy for the teams logistically.
The bidding committee targets 32 million people in a 100-kilometre radius of Cologne and Paris and fans from foreign countries.
“We want to have low prices and more spectators in big venues,” Reindl said. Tickets will be available for as little as €9 while the average price over all tournament stages and seat categories will be €39. Local transportation will be offered for free to ticketholders and participants.
Tickets will be sold centrally by CTS Eventim, which also owns the arena in Cologne.
“This will make it easy for fans from all over the world to buy tickets,” Reindl said.
The committee calculates with 600,000 fans with a capacity of 886,000 fans for all games.
During the event, Latvia showed interest in bidding for 2018. Switzerland in view of new arenas in Zurich and Geneva, as well as Slovakia announced their intention to bid for 2019.