Hosting tourney could reach $10M profit this time

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Back in 1991 in Saskatoon, Hockey Canada made a $1 million profit playing host to the World Junior.

In 2003, in Halifax, it netted $3.2 million.

This year, it has an outside chance of hitting ... are you ready for this ... $10 million!

"At least nine million,'' said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson upon arrival here yesterday after attending early tournament games in Kamloops and Kelowna.

"When we hit $1 million in Saskatoon, I never thought we'd go up much from that,'' he testified.

Three years from now, at a location to be announced in April, who knows what size of cheque the organizers will have to write to make the short list for final consideration.

Virtually every area in Canada will be bidding with expectations it'll be held somewhere between here and Quebec City where the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championships will be held.

PRELIMINARY BIDS

"We had 11 or 12 bids for this one,'' said Nicholson. "We're getting preliminary bids in now and we expect the same kind of numbers.''

One of those bids will, again, be from Edmonton, a city which is expected to be back in the Western Hockey League by then.

Vancouver put up a $5 million guarantee as part of their bid.

"There were two bids guaranteeing a higher figure than British Columbia,'' said Nicholson.

"We felt B.C. had a better business plan. The Canucks, the Giants, the Blazers and the Rockers along with B.C. Hockey were all behind it.

"And four years out from the Olympics has been perfect. Two years out might not have been.

"We've made $3 million in marketing,'' he said of sponsorship, etc. ''It'll be interesting to see where we end up.

"It's been sold-out buildings everywhere and the mood has been terrific for all the games, not just the ones including Canada. In Kamloops, where they weren't that happy about having Latvia when the draws were announced, they've virtually adopted the Latvian team.

GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS

Nicholson said Hockey Canada goes to great lengths to make sure all the countries, especially the players, are treated very well here to ensure Canada's new once-every-three-year rotation stays intact.

There are some who are now suggesting the tournament, which is generally ignored in Europe and the U.S., come to this country every second year.

"When we get crowds like these and the players are all happy with the experience they have here, they'll come back,'' said Nicholson.

Nicholson said on the first day of the tournament at the three venues they sold more than $200,000 worth of jerseys and souvenirs.

Considering that a lot of people don't like the new look Team Canada outfits with the racing stripes down the side, that's pretty good.

"Imagine if they liked them,'' he said, laughing.


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