BERNE – On Friday, the Belarusian bid was successful and got 75 votes in the race for hosting the 2014 IIHF World Championship. The application with the slogan “Welcome to the young hockey country” beat out those from Hungary (24 votes), Latvia (3), and Ukraine (3).
Belarus failed to win the rights for the 2013 Worlds with its application with Minsk and Bobrusk as venues. But it was successful this time with its 2014 World Championship bid, with two new arenas in close proximity in the capital city of Minsk, which has 1.8 million inhabitants.
“Hosting this championship will not only boost the national economy, but also take Belarusian ice hockey to a whole new level,” the Chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association, Vladimir Naumov, said. “Our devoted fans are eager to see their idols with their own eyes to admire, learn, adopt the best traditions, and lay a sound foundation for future victories.”
“This is the best day in the history of Belarusian hockey, maybe the best day in Belarus sports altogether,” said Sergej Gontcharov, the General Secretary of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association.
The 15,000-seat Minsk Arena is currently in the final stage of its construction and will open its doors in December 2009 for the KHL team Dynamo Minsk. It’s the lynchpin of a sports complex that includes a speed-skating rink, a velodrome and two practice rinks. The main arena will have an eight-sided scoreboard with big LED screens.
The Mayor of Minsk guaranteed that construction of the 8,000-seat Arena Chizhovka (18 kilometres from the main venue at the other end of the city) will start in July 2009. It’s scheduled to open in December 2010, and will act as a gateway to a promising project involving hotel and entertainment facilities. It will also have a practice rink.
The budget of the organizing committee is €11.4 million. Belarus will be the 18th country to have staged an IIHF World Championship.
For more information about the bid, visit www.minsk2014.com
MARTIN MERKThe 15,000-seat Minsk Arena is almost ready for its opening next winter. Photo: BIHA