'On our radar'

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Hope skates eternal.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson was still basking in the resounding success of the 2007 World Women's Hockey Championship held in Manitoba.

And both Hockey Manitoba president Brian Sarna and host committee chair Polly Craik were presented with gold medals yesterday morning, just before the start of Hockey Canada's AGM being held here.

"Thank you so much for the opportunity," Craik said. "And we in Manitoba and Selkirk and our staff know we can pull it all together, when is our next one, Bob?"

Hockey Canada was recently awarded the 2009-2010 world junior men's event and had been given the 2011-12 world juniors. It's no secret Manitoba would love to host another one -- if the price is right. Hockey Canada will likely take bids for both simultaneously.

'A LOT OF CALLS'

"We'll look at that over the summer time, but I've had a lot of calls from people in Winnipeg already and they will certainly be on our radar when we make those selections," Nicholson said.

Ottawa, however, needed to pony up a $12.5 million guarantee to host the 2008 juniors and the successful bidder will need two arenas with the capacity of the second one no smaller than 7,000 seats.

After the MTS Centre, Manitoba's biggest facility is Brandon's Keystone Centre (almost 5,000).

"They could be creative doing something with Brandon and Winnipeg," Nicholson suggested. "They could look outside the province into Saskatoon (10,000 seats). The unique thing about all of these bids is that they all have a unique twist to it. I mean, who ever thought we'd go from Winnipeg (1999) to Halifax?"

'BIG PACKAGE'

Then there's the money.

"The property has grown," Nicholson said. "When it was here in 1999, our sponsorship package was under $1 million. Today, we're shooting for over $5 million in Ottawa and that will be transferred to other cities.

"The corporate side has become such a big package. Selling it out is not an issue."

Hockey Canada will likely start the bid process this fall and decide on the host sites by next May, Nicholson said.

Hockey Manitoba will not submit a bid until it knows the details. But True North (MTS Centre) has already offered to partner up. And True North chairman/Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman is not scared off by the cash involved.

"It is clearly a dramatically different financial package today than it was in '99," he said. "And '99 established a new, high-water mark in terms of the success of the tournament that Hockey Canada was able to build on ...

That tournament is a very special event in Canada and would be looked on very, very favourably in this community again. I don't know what the financial parameters are currently but I would expect that they would be in reach for this community."

Chipman did admit Manitoba may have to hook up with Saskatchewan.

"You need two facilities and we haven't gotten that far, to be honest with ya," he said. "We'd have to partner with somebody and whether that would be in Saskatchewan or Brandon, I would have no idea. But the prairie region is more than capable of hosting the world juniors.

"I don't think Hockey Canada has established a process yet for determining how you apply for the tournament. Once we understand that process, we'll take a real hard look at it."

Chipman was on hand to officially present a $20,000 cheque from True North to the 20 national women's team members who won the gold medal.


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