Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with The SSE Arena, Belfast and the Belfast Giants, have submitted a bid to host the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) 2017 World Championships (Division 1B).
The six-team group will consist of Team Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Japan who were relegated from Division 1A and Netherlands who were promoted from Division 2A. If successful, the IIHF tournament is scheduled to get under way in April 2017. The arena in Belfast was opened back in 2000 and has a capacity of 7,200.
Ice Hockey UK chairman, Richard Grieveson, said: “IHUK are delighted to work with the Belfast Giants organisation and stakeholders in Belfast in order to bid to host World Championship ice hockey in the UK.”
“The IHUK board feel that we can now build on our experience of hosting the recent Women’s, Under-20s and Under-18s tournaments in Dumfries - and take the next natural progression by bidding to host the men’s tournament.”
“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity and I am delighted that the Belfast Giants organisation have come on board as our partner.”
“We have strong support from government officials, Sport Northern Ireland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland - all of whom will come together to plan and deliver the event if our bid is successful.”
“I am confident that we will replicate the fantastic partnership we have established in Dumfries with Belfast officials and, if successful, deliver a high-quality World Championship.”
“The board are committed to providing opportunities for our players and supporters to watch, first hand, the highest possible level of ice hockey. It is especially important for our younger players to see elite competition and aspire to reach these levels in the future.”
“As our experience in Dumfries has told us, hosting these events contributes significantly to the local economy and helps us to evidence how our sport can also have wider social benefits to communities.”
“I urge all supporters to get behind our bids. We will do our very best to secure these events at Congress in Moscow this week. These are exciting times.”
Steve Thornton, Head of Hockey Operations for the Stena Line Belfast Giants, said: “The SSE Arena and the city of Belfast would be a fantastic place to host the 2017 IIHF World Championships.
“We have a great relationship with Ice Hockey UK and I know the six competing nations as well as their fans would have a great week in Northern Ireland. Belfast is easily one of the most welcoming cities in the world and, if the bid is successful, we would be excited to bring our famous Giants game nights to the international stage.”
Estonia are the only other country to submit their interest so far to the IIHF to host the tournament.
IIHF Council members and the six teams in the group all vote for their preferred choice – and the successful bidder will be revealed during the annual IIHF Congress, which gets under way later this week in Russia.