Earlier this week the International Ice Hockey Federation announced the host cities for the Men’s U20 World Championships - the World Juniors - for the next 14 tournaments. 2019 in Vancouver/Victoria and 2020 in Prague were already known but now we know what countries the tournament will be heading to next:
2021 - Canada
2022 - Sweden
2023 - Russia
2024 - Canada
2025 - USA
2026 - Canada
2027 - Finland
2028 - Cezch Republic
2029 - Canada
2030 - USA
2031 - Russia
2032 - Canada
Canada will host six times in the next fourteen years, USA and Russia will host twice, and Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic each get one.
Now the decision making starts. Hockey Canada thought they’d have a good time sticking to major cities after the success of Calgary/Edmonton in 2012 and Saskatoon/Regina in 2010 so they went where (they thought) the action is: Toronto & Montreal.
Spoiler: It wasn’t in either city.
Combined with Buffalo in 2018, Toronto and Montreal combined to give the games the feel of watching a practice scrimmage with low turnouts for non-medal/Canada games. Hockey Canada went for the big bucks rather than go where the fans are. Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax, Regina, Saskatoon and Vancouver (with Kamloops and Kelowna) all hosted the event in the 10 years before the most recent tournaments and were a rousing success. Part of it was they are either smaller cities, more isolated from the thoughts of bookers for top attractions and events, or rarely see a quality hockey team on the ice.
Vancouver/Victoria is reportedly on it’s way to being sold out already. This is a market that hasn’t been over saturated by big hockey tournaments and that’s where Hockey Canada should look. Below are the cities I think Hockey Canada should look at for the next five turns hosting.
2021: St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
Arenas: Medal Round/Group A - Mile One Centre (6,287), Group B - Jack Byrne Arena (1,000)
Previous hockey tournaments hosted: World U-17 Hockey Challenge (2004), Four Nation’s Cup (2010), Telus Cup (2011)
St. John’s is the biggest, most far fetched idea out of all possible hosts, but I think it would a great one if you’re looking for atmosphere, sold out games, and a great two week hockey celebration. The Mile One Centre is smaller than the B sites in some past tournaments but that’s fine. In fact it’s probably better for the crowds really. A jam packed audience for the games at the main site, and only 1,000 seats at the B site should make the Danes and Slovaks feel appreciated when they play in North America for once. There’s almost no competition for the tournament for locals and visitors.
The only items that could beheld against St. John’s would be the smaller arenas mean less profit, but only Hockey Canada would care about that. Also the weirdo time zone would mean people get confused about what starts when.
Two minor things that can be easily ignored if you ant to bring the tournament somewhere it will be appreciated.
2024: Regina/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Arenas: Medal Round/Group A - Sasktel Centre, Saskatoon (15,100), Group B - Brandt Centre, Regina (6,484)
Previous hockey tournaments hosted: Saskatoon: Memorial Cup (1999, 2013), Men’s World Junior Championships (2010) - Regina: Men’s World Junior Championships (2010), Esso Cup (2010), Memorial Cup (2018)
In 2024 it will have been 14 years since these two cities split the tournament the first time, and the 2010 games are fondly looked back on as a great time in the stands and on the ice. They’re established host cities that like St. John’s won’t have any competition for attention.
A downside to these two is that we’re re-treading already. While 14 years seems like a lot, it’s not that far back if we go down the list of host cities.
2026: Hamilton, Ontario
Arenas: Medal Round/Group A - FirstOntario Centre (19,000), Group B - Meridian Centre (St. Catharines - 5,580)
Previous hockey tournaments hosted: Hamilton: Men’s World Junior Championships (1986), Canada Cup (1987, 1991), Memorial Cup (1990) - St. Catharines: Women’s World Junior Championships (2016)
Hamilton is growing as people flee the GTA's housing market and is building a reputation for being more than a town of steelmills on the waterfront. When FirstOntario Centre opened it hosted two big tournaments and nothing has returned since. The arena is a bit worn down but is still regularly used for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. It’s halfway between Toronto and Buffalo, easy access for media and millions of fans.
There’s no good B site in Hamilton proper, but 20 minutes down the highway is the Meridan Centre in St. Catharines which hosted the 2016 Women’s World Juniors to record breaking crowds. A possible con would be the city is looking to replace the FirstOntario Centre, so it may not be open by 2026, but if it still is, there’s no better way to shut the place down.
2029: Quebec City, Quebec
Arenas: Medal Round/Group A: Centre Videotron (18,259), Group B - Pavillon de la Jeunesse (5,000)
Previous hockey tournaments hosted: Men’s World Junior Championships (1978), Men’s World Championships (2008), Tournoi International de hockey pee-wee de Québec (annually)
Quebec City over Christmas is just begging for some B-roll to be shot for intermission bumpers. There’s a brand new NHL arena with a junior hockey team in it to displace. By 2029 it will have been 50 years since Quebec City last hosted the WJC, so it’s not like we’re going back to the well too soon. The B site, the 5,000 seat Pavillon de la Jeunesse is locate don the same ExpoCité site as the Centre Videotron so fans could go from site to site for games with ease. That is, if the Pavillon is still open - it will be nearing it’s 100th birthday in 2029.
2032: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Arenas: Medal Round/Group A - Scotiabank Centre (10,505), Group B - Centre 200, Sydney, NS (5,000)
Previous hockey tournaments hosted: Halifax: Memorial Cup (2000), Royal Bank Cup (2002), Men’s World Junior Championships (2003), Women’s World Championships (2004), Men’s World Championships (2008), Canada Winter Games (2011) - Sydney: Canada Winter Games (1987), Men’s World Junior Championships (2003), World U17 Junior Hockey Challenge (2014)
Halifax is just like Saskatoon/Regina in that it's held up as one of the top hosts that isn't an NHL market. It's like St. John's with size. A successful tournament host in the past it’s held IIHF events for men and women at all levels before and is constantly involved in Canadian sports.
The two sites are four hours apart, the farthest of any of the selected hosts so far but it worked out well in 2003 and there’s no reason to think 30 years later it’s a problem.
There are cities that would be great hosts that I left out. London/Windsor in Ontario had a joint bid for the 2019 and they would be perfect hosts for the games but I went with Hamilton. Kitchener, ON could team up with Guelph and it would be an awesome tournament. Ottawa was a great host city, perhaps by the 2032 event there’s the new downtown arena to celebrate, and Lansdowne is a perfect B site. Winnipeg has never hosted and would do just as well as Ottawa or Edmonton. Edmonton and Calgary could easily host it again to a great turnout, or one city could bid by themselves and take all the glory.
Where do you want to see the World juniors play in Canada next?
This poll is closed
St. John’s, NL
Quebec City, QC