International Ice Hockey Federation

Where to go in 2021?

Where to go in 2021?

Finland, Belarus and Latvia want to host Worlds

Published 18.05.2017 17:01 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Where to go in 2021?
The four bid venues. Left: The Finnish venues in Tampere and Helsinki. Right: The joint bid with Minsk and Riga. Photos: HHOF-IIHF Images, SRV / Studio Libeskind
Tomorrow the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress will allocate the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Two strong bids are in the race.

The Finnish cities of Tampere and Helsinki are up against a joint proposal from Minsk and Riga, the capitals of Belarus and Latvia. Both bids to host the biggest annual winter sport event in 2021 addressed delegates with strong presentations today. Delegates from the 67 member national associations present at the congress, as well as the members of the IIHF Council, will vote tomorrow.

The dates of the proposed bids are 7-23 May 2021.

A further 27 venues for the lower divisions of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program will be allocated in Cologne, where Congress takes place on Friday and Saturday. Follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, VK or Snapchat for updates.

Finland with experience and new Tampere Arena

Hockey legend Saku Koivu joined Finnish Ice Hockey Association President Harri Nummela on the stage to present their bid to bring the Worlds back to Finland and to the cities of Tampere and Helsinki in 2021.

“Representing Finland, especially as a captain, it was the biggest honour for me to play twice at home in front of our fans. It was an overwhelming feeling when the whole country is behind you,” Koivu said.

“Hockey is a big part of the Finnish way of life and I can guarantee you that the fans will create a great atmosphere not only for the Finnish games but for the whole tournament. We may not be big talkers, but when we do it, we do it well.”

Finland’s capital Helsinki and Tampere, touted Finland’s hockey capital with its long history and two top-league teams, are the bid cities. A new arena in Tampere would serve as the main venue.

Tampere hosted the first World Championship in the country in 1965. The old Hakametsa rink in Tampere also hosted the Worlds in 1982, 1991, 1997 and 2003. But in the near future the teams will move to a new building in the heart of the city.

“It’s a brand-new, world-class ice hockey arena with the best possible circumstances and experience,” Nummela told the delegates. “Finland is one of the safest and most stable countries in the world. We can offer a great atmosphere to participate for the greatest sport on earth.”

Tampere is one of the largest cities in Finland with a population of 225,000 in the city and almost a million within a 100-km radius. Its city centre is compact with the arena and hotels in walking distance. The new 13,500-seat Tampere Arena is scheduled to open in 2020 as the most modern multi-purpose arena in Northern Europe. It’s an ambitious project that has been in the planning phase for a long time and construction work is set to begin this year. The arena will be conveniently located in the city centre next to Tampere’s central railway and bus station. The facility will include 12 dressing rooms and a second ice pad. Click here for a presentation of the project.

“It was my dream for ten years to have this fourth-generation arena in Tampere and finish my career with this arena in the city that is very dear to me,” said IIHF Vice President and former Finnish Ice Hockey Association President Kalervo Kummola in his address.

With Tampere, a centrally-located city, serving as the main venue, the Finns hope to make the World Championship accessible to more people in Finland than in previous tournaments that were played exclusively in Helsinki. Just 170 kilometres separate the cities or one-and-a-half hours by car or train.

Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena will serve as the second venue. The capital city has almost 630,000 inhabitants (1.85 million in the region) and the 13,431-seat Hartwall Arena has most recently hosted the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 (co-hosted with Stockholm, Sweden) as well as the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship that set a European attendance record in that category. Helsinki was also a World Championship host in 1974, 1982, 1991, 1997 and 2003.

Like the new arena in Tampere, the Hartwall Arena has a practice arena in the same building. The arena is located 15 minutes from the city centre and was opened in 1997.

Belarus and Latvia with “Passion. No Borders”

Belarus and Latvia are not as highly ranked as Finland on the ice but with their passionate hockey fans they hope to once again host the Worlds with their joint bid.

Originally Belarus planned to apply with two arenas in Minsk for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship but then the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association and the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation joined together for a bid of the neighbouring countries with Minsk and Riga as the venues. Their slogan “Passion. No Borders” seeks to show a good relationship between a country in and another outside of the European Union, which they symbolically did with a video sequence from a space shuttle, and without borders.

Minsk is the Belarusian capital, with almost two million inhabitants and 3.4 million in the region. In 2014 it broke the World Championship attendance record that was reclaimed by the Czechs in 2015. For 2021 the 15,086-seat Minsk Arena, with two practice rinks on site, would be used as the primary venue.

Minsk is the cultural centre of Belarus with numerous events and activities. The bid presentation recalled the great atmosphere of 2014, with its downtown fan village and fan zone as well as the convenience of Minsk Arena being just 15 minutes from the city centre and the airport.

“We learned a lot from organizing the 2006 World Championship in Riga and the 2014 World Championship in Minsk and with that experience can make things even better in 2021,” said Belarusian Ice Hockey Association General Secretary Yaraslau Zauharodni.

Riga, Latvia’s capital, is just a one-hour flight away. It has 640,000 inhabitants and 1.4 million people living in a 100-kilometre radius. Latvia is renowned for its passionate fans at World Championships all around the world, and the country hopes to recreate the great atmosphere of 2006 when the 10,300-seat Arena Riga was opened to host the Worlds. And they promise that a new practice arena will be built next to it.

“I truly believe in a Europe with no borders and with passion. It would be a fantastic experience to show that Europe is about passion, not about borders. I truly believe in social responsibility. And that also means the prices for fans. They will not have to pay a lot. It’s just €2.20 for a beer and in Minsk it’s even cheaper,” said Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs in his speech. And Minsk Mayor Andrei Shorets added that in Minsk it’s even less, just one euro.

New LHF President Aigars Kalvitis remembers the 2006 Worlds in Riga well. At that time he was the Prime Minister.

“Hockey is loved so much in our country and we are thankful that our Belarusians friends invited us. In Cologne we had at least 7,000 to 8,000 Latvian fans who supported the team. We hope with this championship we will develop hockey in the region,” he said.

Both arenas were opened to host the first-ever World Championship in each county, the Arena Riga for the 2006 Worlds and the Minsk Arena for the 2014 edition. The two venues also hosted the Final Olympic Qualification stages in 2016 as well as World Championships in the U20, U18 and women’s categories and the IIHF Continental Cup. They are currently mainly used by the local KHL teams, Dynamo Minsk and Dinamo Riga. Dynamo Minsk has the highest attendance in the KHL and the second best in Europe.

“Ice hockey is number one in our countries. You would give us the biggest honour possible and the greatest event our countries can host,” said IIHF Council Member and BIHA Vice President Sergej Gontcharov.

Click here for the Facebook page of the Belarusian-Latvian bid.

Previously assigned World Championships:
2018: Copenhagen & Herning (Denmark) – Website
2019: Bratislava & Kosice (Slovakia)
2020: Zurich & Lausanne (Switzerland)


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