In preparation for the tournament, representatives from the organizing committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and marketing partner Infront met in Kosice.
“We are putting the finishing touches on a wide range of details,” said 2019 IIHF WM organizing committee president, Igor Nemecek. “The Steel Arena in Kosice is being modified, and the boards are being changed to meet championship requirements. In Bratislava, similar modifications will happen in March. The floor rubber and the boards will be changed, and the cabling needed for various technology will be installed.”
The various preparations will be put to the test when Bratislava hosts the Kaufland Cup from 7-9 February. Whereas the refurbishing of Ondrej Nepela Ice Rink in Bratislava was only just finishing when the first WM was held in 2011, this year everything is in place well before the tournament.
“In 2011, we were organizing an event of this magnitude for the first time,” Nemecek explained. “Now, we can focus directly on preparations for the tournament. However, information technology has undergone huge change in the last decade, and there are many new innovations to work into our plan. We keep telling everyone involved in our preparations that we can’t rely only on our experience from 2011 because there is so much more to do. We want to set the highest standards of quality again for 2019.”
The organization committee director and his co-workers are trying to find a way to cover the unfinished building close to Steel Arena and have talked to the building‘s owner about solutions. „It is clear that the building will not be finished,“ Nemecek continued. „We do not want it to spoil the surrounding of the arena though.“
There is huge interest in the tournament among fans event just 100 days before the championship starts. More than 60,000 ticket packages have been sold, and the sale of single-match tickets will start at the end of February.
„Everything is going according to plan. We had some problems at the beginning of ticket sales, but we have solved them all. I believe the next phase will be without any problems,“ Nemeček added.
The organizers are preparing fan zones both for those who have tickets and those who don‘t. „We are preparing fan zones for all hockey fans. The ones who bought the tickets can meet there before or after match, have some snacks, or buy souvenirs. Fans who don’t have tickets can watch the matches and experience the atmoshpere outside the arena,“Nemecek enthused.
The 16 national teams already know where they are going to be accommodated and which are going to be their dressing rooms during the championship. The Slovak national team is going to be in the dressing room of HC Košice, and the second-largest dressing room of Steel Arena is for Team Canada. HC Slovan Bratislava’s dressing room is booked Team Russia, and Team Sweden will get the biggest of the remaining ones.
„We already know how big the teams are. The organizer has to pay for a given number of rooms, and the teams want more. We will know the exact arrival schedule of everyone by March 15. The organizer is responsibile for providing accommodation and training facilities for the teams starting from May 9. Everything in the hotels and arenas will be ready from May 7. In contrast to other champioships, our dressing rooms are permanent and not just temporary. All the teams appreciate the comfort and the fact that their dressing rooms are in the main arenas, so they do not need to travel for training,“Nemeček explained. As well, the federations‘ representatives consider it a big plus that the hotels are not far from the arenas, making travel from one to the other very easy.
The last hundred days will be used by the organizers both home and in surrounding countries to promote the event. Macejko the mascot will show up at travel fairs, at the World Cup in Alpine Skiing in Špindlerův Mlýn, Czech Republic, and at the arenas of participants of the Austrian highest competition EBEL.