How the West was won

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Call it the Alberta Advantage.

How in the world does a Toronto bid with a guarantee of $13.5 million to host the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship get beat out by a combined Edmonton-Calgary bid guarantee of barely half of that?

How does Alberta's $7.5 million trump Toronto?

"It was the best business plan. The business plan was unbelievable. The guarantee was a little lower, only $7.5 million. But the potential profit was over $17 million," said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada.

"Toronto did a great job, but this bid was a real winner. This business plan exceeded all business plans. The goal in this business plan was the highest we ever had," Nicholson said at yesterday's second of two media conferences to announce that a combined bid by Calgary and Edmonton had won the 2012 world juniors, ended up making the biggest guarantee of all.

"We're going to break all the records. I'll be on the record for that," he said of attendance and profit totals in the two rival cities which have combined to win the bid for the third world junior tournament to be held in Canada in the next four years.

SMALLER SCALE

The first was this year's edition in Ottawa, where the guarantee was $12.5 million. In 2010, smaller-scale Saskatoon-Regina will host, with NHL buildings unavailable due to the Olympics-compacted season schedule.

The 2011 tournament is scheduled for the U.S., now almost certainly headed for Buffalo as a result of Toronto's failure.

"Wow! What a great day for Alberta," Nicholson said at Rexall Place, where Team Canada will play all tournament games prior to the medal round.

"Maybe we should have waited a week," he added of the Monday-Friday Labour Day Classic and Labour Day Replay games between the Stampeders and Eskimos in which the provincial rivalry peaks.

"What a bid! With Edmonton and Calgary, every game for every team and every player will be in an NHL rink," Nicholson enthused.

"All I can say is that I'm really excited and really proud.

"Toronto had an excellent bid, but I am very confident we selected the best bid. This is a great day for Alberta, for the world juniors and for hockey in Canada."

So how did they pull off this great Trawna robbery?

"We showed them an economic model where we could hit more than $18 million together. We said 'Why don't we shoot for the moon together?'

"We never thought for a moment that we wouldn't be successful," said co-chairman Lyle Best of Edmonton.

"We convinced them that Edmonton and Calgary was an equation of one and one equalling three," said Alberta bid co-chairman Jim Peplinski of Calgary.

"We felt that $7.5 million was all we could justify as a guarantee financially. But we showed them that there was an upside of more than they'd ever been able to look at before.

"We sold them on risk/reward. I think we can hit $18 to $20 million, net."

There will be debate between the two cities now about which one won, with Calgary getting the gold medal game but Edmonton getting all the Team Canada games in the same scenario as Halifax had the Canadian games and Quebec City the medal round games at the first IIHF World Championships ever played in Canada this past spring.

I covered that tournament, and I don't think Halifax would trade places with Quebec City if they had a do-over.

TOURNAMENT CAPITAL

But it does make Calgary the capital of the tournament. The focus is always on the medal round games.

There wasn't much debate involved, according to the co-chairmen.

"One city was going to get Team Canada and the other city was going to get the medal round," said Peplinski.

"Calgary has the bigger building," the former captain of the Flames and 1988 Olympian said of being able to open the Olympic nosebleed seats to the 20,000 capacity for the medal round games.

"They had 20,000 there and we had 17,000 here," said Best, who heads the committee to deliver a new arena to Edmonton, but not in time for this event.

"Edmonton will pretty much be Team Canada's home. We get five Canadian games. They get the gold medal game. I think both cities should be happy with that," Best added.

Indeed. With pre-tournament games all over the province, Team Canada summer camp and selection camps in Alberta as well, this is one Battle of Alberta that everybody wins.


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