Preparing the 2010 party

Next World Championship to begin with record-setting game

06.05.2009
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PostFinance Arena Berne  Switzerland

From left: Philippe Blatter (Infront), Uwe Harnos (OC), René Fasel (IIHF), Horst Lichtner (IIHF), Franz Reindl (OC). Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

BERNE – The Organizing Committee of the 2010 World Championship held its first press conference for an international audience on Wednesday at PostFinance Arena.

The 74th IIHF World Championship will be the sixth to be staged in Germany from May 7 to 23, 2010, and it promises to be one big hockey party.

Most games will be played in Cologne's Lanxess Arena (18,500 seats) and Mannheim's SAP Arena (13,500 seats). The Cologne venue is Europe’s biggest hockey arena, and previously served the main host venue in 2001. It currently holds the IIHF World Championship single-game indoor record with 18,500 spectators.

Yet now the Germans want to challenge the overall world record too. One day before the first pucks are dropped in Cologne and Mannheim, the opening game will take place on May 7 in the Veltins-Arena football stadium in Gelsenkirchen.

The home of the football team Schalke 04 is one of the most spectacular and modern stadiums in Europe. It has a retractable roof and a slide-out pitch, which makes it an ideal location for indoor activities too. The capacity for the opening game between the Germans and another team in their group will be 75,976. That means that Germany could break the world record of 74,554 spectators, which was set between Michigan State and Michigan, two American university teams, in East Lansing in 2001.

The opening game will be the product of three years of planning, and the venue will be reserved for several days in advance for this unique opening game. “We worked hard at this project, and it’s a great opportunity for us,” said Franz Reindl, General Secretary of the Organizing Committee.

The first block of 60,000 tickets for the opening game was sold out in just one week, and the second ticketing stage opens on May 22. The groups and venue allocations will be known by then, and packages for the Preliminary, Qualification and Final Rounds will be on sale. Day and weekend tickets will go on sale in September 2009, single-game tickets in March 2010.

“We were surprised in a good way about the project and the ticket sales,” IIHF President René Fasel said. “We know that Germany has great fans, but I was still surprised that the tickets were sold so fast. It will be a great start to the World Championship.”

The big event in Gelsenkirchen should also give the Germans an opportunity to increase the popularity of hockey. After all, it'll be in a football stadium, and this is a country where football is considered the “king of sports” .

“Everybody knows that hockey has potential in Germany – I think it’s the biggest sport there after football,” said IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner, who has a background in German and international football. “There are excellent arenas with a great atmosphere. I’m 100 percent confident that it will be a wonderful success.”

Organizing Committee President Uwe Harnos, who also serves as the President of the German Ice Hockey Association (DEB), can count on an experienced crew.

DEB General Secretary Franz Reindl occupies the same position in the Organizing Committee, and has experienced numerous World Championships as a player, coach and manager.

Henner Ziegfeld serves as the Deputy General Secretary and Head of Marketing and Communications. He headed up the same department for the 2001 IIHF World Championship, and worked as a sponsorship manager on behalf of the main sponsor, Skoda Auto.

Thomas Freyer worked for the IIHF for five years as its marketing manager before departing for the position of Deputy General Secretary and Head of Administration and Logistics in the Organizing Committee.

Naoki Tomita – who heads up the Department of Events, Hospitality & Protocol – has represented Japan as a delegate at numerous IIHF events, and was a hockey player in his native town of Cologne.

Michael Pfuhl, a former player and long-time DEB official, will organize the Sports & Competition department, just as he did at the 2001 IIHF World Championship.

“We hope that we can develop hockey in Germany and generate some money for our junior program,” Uwe Harnos said.

Harnos was in high demand among German journalists after the disappointing 15th-place finish of the German national team. When asked if Uwe Krupp will continue as head coach, Harnos replied: “We need to take a step back and analyze things before we can talk about what to do with our staff.”

“We want to use the Deutschland Cup in Munich and the 2010 Olympics to be well-prepared for the 2010 IIHF World Championship and to create a feeling of euphoria,” he added. “To play in the opening game in Gelsenkirchen will be exciting for all the players who will participate there.”

Notebook:
  • The groups for 2010 will be known at the conclusion of the 2009 IIHF World Championship, and the 2009 World Ranking will be based on the results of the World Championships and the Olympic Games between 2006 and 2009.
  • The participating teams will be: Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, USA, Switzerland, Slovakia, Belarus, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Denmark, Italy, France and Kazakhstan.
  • The budget is €17 million with a target of 500,000 spectators.
  • Some 1,000 accredited journalists from over 30 countries, around 190 involved TV stations and some 700 million TV viewers are expected.
  • Arena owners Ralf-Bernd Assenmacher in Cologne and Daniel Hopp in Mannheim will lead the Local Organizing Committees in the two most used venues, and Rüdiger Mengede will do it in Gelsenkirchen.
  • The Organizing Committee is a joint venture of the German Ice Hockey Association and Infront Sports & Media, the IIHF’s long-standing marketing partner.
  • The Deutschland Cup, which was previously played in Hanover and Mannheim, moves to Munich. Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the USA will play the single round-robin tournament in the Bavarian metropolis from November 6 to 8, 2009.
  • Germany will also organize the IIHF Congresses of the next season. The Semi-Annual Congress (September 16-19) will be in Tunis, Tunisia, a sister city of the 2010 Worlds’ main venue, Cologne. The Annual Congress will take place during the IIHF World Championship, May 20-23, 2010, in Cologne.
  • More information about the 2010 World Championship, the venues and ticket sales is available on www.iihfworlds2010.com.
  • The 2011 World Championship was allotted to Slovakia (Bratislava & Kosice), the 2012 Worlds to Finland (Helsinki & Turku), and the 2013 event to Sweden (Stockholm & Malmö). The 2014 World Championship will be awarded on Friday during the annual congress. More information about the bids will be published on Thursday.

MARTIN MERK


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