WINNIPEG, MAN. -- The hosting of the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championship has been awarded to a bid put forward by the Province of Manitoba, Canadian Hockey announced on Thursday.
The Manitoba group will stage the prestigious Christmas holiday hockey championship as a partnership involving Canadian Hockey, Hockey Manitoba and the communities of Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Selkirk.
The Winnipeg-based bid also has the strong support of both the Province of Manitoba and Winnipeg Enterprises, which operates the 14,000-seat Winnipeg Arena. The Arena will be the main tournament site, where 14 of the 31 tournament games, including the gold-medal final, will be played. Games also will be held in Brandon, Portage and Selkirk, and some other sites as well.
A three-man committee selected the Manitoba bid from among four other strong candidates representing Hamilton-Kitchener, ON; Halifax, NS; Saskatoon, SK; and Hull-Ottawa. The committee members included Frank Lento, Canadian Hockey chairman; David Branch, president of the Canadian Hockey League; and Murray Costello, president of Canadian Hockey.
'Any of the five finalists (bidding cities), based on their applications, would stage a successful event,' said Costello. 'What made the Manitoba bid special were a number of factors, beginning with the fact we are confident that for the 10-day period the tournament covers, the World Junior tournament would be the big show in town.
'The support the bid received from all the communities involved, as well as the province and the Manitoba business community convinced us it was the best from among a handful of strong bids.'
Costello also noted that the special-event atmosphere built into the Manitoba bid impressed the Selection Committee, as did the strength and base of volunteer support available in the participating Manitoba communities.
Winnipeg also boasts an international airport and ample hotel facilities to handle the influx of visitors the World Junior Hockey Championship attracts.
'We believe this should be the most successful World Junior Hockey Championship we've ever held,' said Costello.
Since the World Junior tournament is staged in Canada on a rotational basis once every four years or so, it is important to turn a significant profit on the event in order to maintain Canada's high performance standard in international competition. A portion of any profit derived is channelled back into hockey development across the country, as well as into the Canadian Hockey branch hosting the event.
Another beneficiary of a successful tournament is the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees Major Junior Hockey in Canada. Canadian Hockey operates the National Junior Team in partnership with the CHL and its constituent members, the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 1999 event will be the fifth time the World Junior Hockey Championship will be held in Canada. The tournament, an International Ice Hockey Federation event, previously was held in Canada in 1978 (Montreal); 1986 (Hamilton); 1991 (Saskatoon) and 1995 (Red Deer).
The 10-team tournament will run from Dec. to Jan., with all of Canada's games telecast live on both The Sports Network(TSN) and RDS (Réseau des Sports). Both TSN and RDS will broadcast the gold-medal game regardless of whether Canada is involved or not.
Since the inception of the tournament, Canada has won 10 gold medals, more than any other country, and won its fifth straight gold -- also a record -- in Geneva in January.