The city of Grand Forks will ended two years of preparation for the World Junior Championship when Canada played against Slovakia for the first game of tournament play.
The city is expecting to gain a little international flavor as fans from around the world will make the trip to cheer on their respective teams. The Grand Forks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has conservatively estimated that the tournament will bring in roughly $28 million to local businesses.
The increase in commerce is not the only thing city officials are looking forward to, however. According to Dan Schenkein of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, the tournament is an opportunity for Grand Forks to show its abilities as a host.
“It’s going to demonstrate to the region and further that Grand Forks can host world-class events,” he said.
He also said hosting an event like this is something new to Grand Forks. “It’s the first time an event of this caliber is coming to town,” he said.
Chris Semrau, director of media relations at Ralph Engelstad Arena, said Grand Forks also brings something new to the tournament. The city of about 50,000 will be one of the smaller communities to ever host the event.
Although the city is not as large as those that have held the tournament in the past, it is home to the recently constructed $100 million Ralph Engelstad Arena. The arena, which is home to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey teams, is said by many to be one of the world’s finest hockey facilities.
The other host community, Thief River Falls also makes up for its lack of population with its own newly constructed Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Both arenas were built with money donated by the late Ralph Engelstad, a former UND hockey player and native to the area.
According to Semrau, Grand Forks beat out other U.S. communities such as Columbus, Ohio and Omaha, Neb. to host the event.
This tournament will mark the fourth time the event has been held in the United States