The group representing Grand Forks, North Dakota in their bid for the 2005 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships held a press conference in Halifax on Thursday to announce preliminary details about the event.
The 11,800-seat Ralph Englestad Arena, located on the University of North Dakota campus, is ready to house the bulk of the tournament with support games to be played in the neighbouring Thief River Falls.
Englestad Arena is equipped with everything from ten state-of-the-art dressing rooms to underground parking, and has a strong hockey base both at the university and in the community. The Fighting Sioux sell out most of their home games, a fact that was critical to Grand Forks’ successful bid to USA Hockey.
Grand Forks beat out a number of quality US bids that included Omaha, Nebraska, Columbus, Ohio, and Madison, Wisconsin. The Grand Forks bid was strengthened by the support of Mr. Englested, who funded the construction of both arenas for the purposes of the event.
The USA Hockey committee spoke about the geographical benefits of the tournament, sighting the area as a hotbed for hockey fans, as well as alluding to the proximity to the Canadian border. They hope to capitalize on both in an effort to maximize attendance for the games. The bid was chosen after it issued a financial guarantee to USA Hockey, but financial information was not disclosed.
Also of interest to Canadian hockey fans, the group indicated that exhibition matches would be held in Manitoba in an attempt to boost Canadian interest. No sites have been set, but mention was made that Winnipeg was a logical possibility.