Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatoon city councils approve request to help fund world junior hockey bid

City councils in Regina and Saskatoon have unanimously approved a request to put up $350,000 each should the cities win a joint bid to host the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships

Cities will put in $350,000 each to co-host event if bid is successful

Canada's Jamie Drysdale, right, celebrates a goal during the 2020 world junior championship in January. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

City councils in Regina and Saskatoon have unanimously approved a request to put up $350,000 each should the cities win a joint bid to host the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships

"I think it's amazing to see Saskatoon and Regina work together," said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, adding there may be more opportunities to collaborate on bringing major events to the province.

"What we've seen in the last few days is the ability to really pull together and bring in large, world-scale events that we already are hearing the energy and the buzz about this proposal."

Tourism Saskatoon and Tourism Regina are working with SaskTel Centre, the Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) Centre, Saskatoon Destination Marketing Hotels and the Regina Hotel Association, and will submit a bid to Hockey Canada on Monday to host the event.

Russia was the original host for 2023, but lost its hosting rights due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Team Canada games and the medal round would be played in Saskatoon while the Group B pool games would be played in Regina. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters says Saskatchewan is ideally suited to host the event.

"We were at a Grey Cup event a little while ago in terms of launching Grey Cup 2022 [which Regina is hosting in November] and there's a line in it in terms of this is the heartland of football," Masters said. "It is the heartland of hockey, too. 

"If football unites the country coast to coast, I would suggest that hockey connects Regina and the province of Saskatchewan to the rest of the world. It is absolutely what we're good at."

If football unites the country coast to coast, I would suggest that hockey connects Regina and the province of Saskatchewan to the rest of the world. It is absolutely what we're good at.-  Regina Mayor Sandra Masters

Teams would begin arriving for the championship around the middle of December this year, with the gold medal game to be played in early January.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters says Saskatchewan is the heartland of hockey. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The Group A pool of teams, including Team Canada, would play their round robin games in Saskatoon. That city would also host the medal rounds of the championship game.

Regina would host the pre-tournament Team Canada games and the Group B pool of teams during the round-robin portion of the tournament.

"I want every team that attends the world juniors to want to be part of Pool B more than they've ever wanted anything in their life," Masters said. "Let's show them how a host city welcomes, includes, celebrates … and  I hope the message to Hockey Canada this morning is definitely that we're up for it and be most happy to host."

Tourism Saskatoon CEO Stephanie Clovechok says the economic impact from the tourney comes at the time when the hospitality industry has been hurting.

"The world championships bring the world to our front doors and will enable an anticipated [economic] impact of $50 million," Clovechok said. "More than 300,000 fans will attend the 31-game event, with an expected 15,000 room-nights for our hotels and 20,000 out-of-town travellers."

Hosting the tournament is comparable to the economic impact of an entire Saskatchewan Roughrider season, according to REAL president and CEO Tim Reid.

"This is literally compressing an entire CFL schedule into one month, and that's pretty spectacular if you think about what that will do for the economics of this province."

Reid says being relegated to hosting the B pool instead of the A pool, which includes Team Canada, shows it might be time for Regina to look at a new arena.

 "I actually think it not only highlights a great career for the Brandt Centre as an exceptional location … but it also probably highlights the opportunity that we have to think bigger and maybe bolder for the future," Reid said.

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard said Wednesday the Quebec government, Ottawa Senators and Quebecor are exploring the possibility of Ottawa and Quebec City entering a joint bid to host the event.

The deadline to submit bids to Hockey Canada is April 4.

With Canadian Press files

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