All the talk and headlines rescently about the 2010 FIFA World Cup has made many fans forget that the World Cup of Hockey is just around the corner. Obviously the hockey event is rather a fly-on-the-wall compared to the World Cup, which draws over a billion viewers, but it will still be played in the 2011 offseason. This makes me think of where these games should be held. If history repeats itself, the World Cup of Hockey will organized by the NHL and held in different NHL cities.
These are the cities/arenas who I believe should host a World Cup match or two:
The NHL has been really trying to push the growth of hockey in Phoenix. The Coyotes are struggling, and an international hockey event may be something worth considering to help increase recognition of the sport in the area. The arena is also brand new and is a beautiful building which seats a little over 17,000. This game would be a bit risky for the World Cup, but might be something that the Coyotes need and the NHL makes the decision.
No one will doubt hockey’s popularity in Minnesota. The Wild are constantly in the top 10 in attendance and will sellout on many nights. Minnesota is the state of hockey and any World Cup games would be a success.
Madison Square Garden is a no-brainer. The stadium sits at the heart of the largest city in the United States with a population of around 18 million people. The arena is one of the most classic buildings in the NHL and should see some World Cup action.
Any arena in Canada would be a good place to host a hokey event and Scotiabank is the first on this list. The stadium seats 19,153 and is located in the Kanata District of Ottawa. Canada is the birth place of hockey and it’s capital deserves a game or two.
The stadium will be the newest NHL arena at the time of the World Cup and will open will just over 18,000 seats. Pittsburgh fans love their hockey and the NHL loves new arenas. Imagine a Canada vs. Russia match in which both Crosby and Malkin faceoff…
It does not matter whether the Leafs are good or not, this arena still caters to some of the largers crowds in the league. Air Canada Centre seats just over 19,000 and, having opening in 1999, is still a relatively new building. A World Cup match could draw a crowd of nearly 21,000 if standing room is included…
Many overlook Washington as a hockey city but the fans have returned with the emergence of Alexander Ovechkin, and they are HUNGRY for the sport. If you put Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, and Team Russia in this building it will not matter who they play. Also, both the capitals of the United States and Canada should host a game.
Philadelphia is a hockey hot-bed in the United States. During the 2007 season, the Flyers were dead last in record but still held strong in the top-five of attendance. The Sporting News has said that Philadelphia is the new “HockeyTown.” This is obviously up to debate, but the devotion of Philadelphia sports fans can not be debated; a World Cup Match would be a smash in Philly.
I don’t even need to explain this one. If you disagree that Montreal should host a World Cup match, you must be a Bruins fan…
A few years ago it would have been almost insane to put the United Center at the top of this list. Times have changed, the Blackhawks have won the Cup, and lead the NHL in attendance. The United Center also is in the top two in capacity with around 20,500 available seats. It would be an absolute shame if a World Cup game was not played in Chicago. Chicago should be the city where the World Cup champions are crowned.