Maritimes sports fans have reason to rejoice after learning that Moncton and Halifax will host the World Junior Hockey Championship this holiday season. More broadly, the news will have a positive impact on New Brunswick’s image.
The World Junior Championships was supposed to take place in Omsk, Russia. After this country invaded Ukraine, it was rightly decided to withdraw the organization of the tournament and assign it to Canada instead.
This sporting event is an extraordinary showcase for the host communities. Millions of spectators around the world watch the matches every year. It is especially popular in English Canada. Additionally, matches are held during the holiday season, when National Hockey League activities are slow, adding to their media impact.
Proving the interest generated by Mondial, Moncton and Halifax weren’t the only ones who wanted to stage it despite short notice. The organizing committee was facing heavy forces across Canada. Quebec-Trois-Rivieres, London-Kitchener, Regina-Saskatoon and Vancouver-Victoria also wanted to welcome the global elite of under-20 hockey players.
The control of Moncton and Halifax over these densely populated cities and regions that have already proven successful in hosting international sporting events is a remarkable feat.
We must not make the mistake of analyzing this declaration solely in terms of the economic benefits or the insight it brings. The 2020 World Cup was held in the Czech Republic. However, chances are good that you don’t know anyone in your vicinity who has vacationed in Ostrava or Teaneck.
However, the fact that the event has been held several times in Canada gives a good idea of what it represents in terms of costs, commitment and impact. In 2019, about 300,000 people attended the games in Vancouver, with an economic impact of $44 million.
However, the benefits will be shared between Moncton and Halifax, not necessarily equally. With a capacity of 8,800 spectators, the Avenir Center is a far cry from the stands in major urban centers across the country or even the Scotiabank Center in Halifax (11,093 seats).
However, the World Junior Hockey Championship will have the effect of a business card that will introduce the new Moncton Coliseum to Canada and the world. Presumably, this will make it easier for city officials to attract sporting and other entertainment events to this impressive infrastructure.
There is also a point that a few people have focused on: the effect this advertisement had on New Brunswick’s reputation.
The Francophone Games were originally scheduled to be held in Moncton and Dieppe in 2021. However, the cost explosion (the bill rose from $17 million to $130 million), persuaded Prime Minister Blaine Higgs to kill the project.
Presumably, the county government has given assurances that it will not repeat this little game when the bill size for this hockey tournament starts to appear.
And Halifax’s reputation was not as white as morning snow. The cancellation of the Women’s World Hockey Championship last year caused shock and disbelief. It was denounced by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which believes it has taken measures to ensure the tournament is held in a safe manner, despite the pandemic.
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia both have things to forgive on the international sports scene. Which makes it all the more surprising that organizing this prestigious event that is the envy of communities across Canada has been entrusted to us.
However, we believe Moncton and Halifax will rise to the challenge. They have high quality infrastructure, qualified and motivated people, as well as support the residents and the municipal and regional governments. They have also organized big events in the past (Moncton has hosted the Memorial Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup matches, World Junior Athletics Championships, etc.).
Everything is ready for an event that already promises to be unforgettable.