T.O. makes play for juniors

SARAH GREEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

It's Toronto's turn.

Mayor David Miller made his pitch yesterday for Toronto to host the 2012 world junior hockey championship, calling the city "the headquarters of hockey in Canada."

The International Ice Hockey Federation has already awarded the 2012 tournament to this country and Hockey Canada is expected to choose a host city next month.

Toronto is in the running against two joint bids -- Calgary and Edmonton; and Regina and Saskatoon. Halifax is also interested.

"It's a Canadian institution to watch this tournament," said Miller, who marks his birthday every Boxing Day by watching the tournament's opening day. "It's been great in other places, but it's Toronto's turn. It's our time. We know we can host world stature events."

Toronto's bid group, which includes the city, Tourism Toronto and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and the provincial government, has put up $4 million to cover the costs of the 11-day tournament. The province is putting up $2 million of the total, while the city and Tourism Toronto are each contributing $500,000.

MLSE will put up $1 million to leave a hockey legacy in Toronto once the gold medal has been awarded. It pledges to refurbish 27 arenas, most of them city owned, over the next few years and to create an exchange program to give hockey equipment to 10,000 kids for five years, said Tom Anselmi, the organization's executive vice-president.

Toronto's bid organizers expect the tournament would draw 400,000 fans to the games and attract more than 4.2 million Canadian viewers for the televised gold-medal match. Toronto has never hosted the world juniors. The Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum are the proposed venues for the games.

"Who is the 17-year-old, 18-year-old, 19-year-old Canadian kid who's going to score to win the gold medal at the Air Canada Centre? That's what Canadians want to see," said Miller.

Ottawa will play host the world juniors in 2009, but Bob Hunter, MLSE's executive vice-president, said he did not expect it to hinder Toronto's bid.

"We've been to the altar before. It's a matter of the right time and the right support and the right event," said Hunter.


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