Two bids, three countries. The 2017 IIHF Annual Congress in May in Cologne will decide who will host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Finland wants to bring the World Championship back to Tampere and Helsinki while the other application is a joint bid of Minsk, Belarus, and Riga, Latvia. The proposed dates of both bids are 7 to 23 May 2021.
The IIHF members will allocate the event during the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress, set to take place 18-20 May 2017 in Cologne, Germany, during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
New Tampere Arena as Finland’s main venue
Tampere is one of the largest cities in Finland with a population of 225,000 in the city and almost a million in the radius of 100 kilometres. The new 13,000-seat Tampere Arena that will open in 2020 as the most modern multipurpose arena in Northern Europe is the main venue of the bid. It will conveniently be located in the city centre next to Tampere’s central railway and bus station.
By having Tampere as venue and more centrally located in the country, the Finns hope to make the World Championship accessible to more people in Finland than at the last events in Helsinki. Tampere is an important city in Finland’s hockey history and also hosted the first World Championship in the country in 1965. The Hakametsa rink in Tampere also hosted the Worlds in 1982, 1991, 1997 and 2003.
Helsinki is Finland’s capital with almost 630,000 inhabitants (1.85 million in the region) and the 13,431-seat Hartwall Arena has most recently hosted the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 (co-hosted with Stockholm, Sweden) as well as the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Helsinki was also a World Championship host in 1974, 1982, 1991, 1997 and 2003. Both arenas have practice rinks within the same facility.
Belarus and Latvia join together
Originally Belarus planned to apply with two arenas in Minsk for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, similar to the setup when the country hosted for the first time in 2014, but on Thursday the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association and the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation announced the joint bid of the neighbouring countries with Minsk and Riga.
Minsk is the Belarusian capital with almost two million inhabitants and 3.4 million in the region and in 2014 broke the World Championship attendance record that was reclaimed by the Czechs in 2015. For 2021 the 14,994-seat Minsk Arena would be used as the primary venue and also includes two practice rinks.
Riga is Latvia’s capital with 640,000 inhabitants and 1.4 million people living in a 100-kilometre radius of Riga. Known for its crazy fans travelling to World Championships around the world, the Latvians hope to create a great atmosphere on home ice like in 2006 when the 10,300-seat Arena Riga was opened to host the event.
Both arenas were opened to host the first World Championship in each county, the Arena Riga for the 2006 Worlds and the Minsk Arena for the 2014 edition. The two venues also hosted the Final Olympic Qualification in 2016 as well as World Championships in the U20, U18 and women’s categories and the IIHF Continental Cup. They are currently mainly used by the local KHL teams, Dynamo Minsk and Dinamo Riga.
The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships until 2020 will take place in the following cities:
2017: Cologne (German) & Paris (France)
2018: Copenhagen & Herning (Denmark)
2019: Bratislava & Kosice (Slovakia)
2020: Zurich & Lausanne (Switzerland)