Today, U.S.A Hockey shortlisted three destinations to play host to the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships. The selected three finalists are Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and St.Louis. Admittance on this will never materialize but it's really a two way race between Pittsburgh and St.Louis as Buffalo last hosted this prestigious event in 2011 and going back to the same well so soon doesn't seem like a required necessity. Could St.Louis and Pittsburgh be feasible hosts, no questions about it but a missed opportunity transpired when they cut down semi-finalist bid Tampa Bay, Florida. The World Junior championships, for us Canadians is a holiday tradition but unfortunately for those south of the border it doesn't quite carry the same resonation. The tournament unless U.S.A Hockey employs the previously successful tactic of using a location near a Canadian border more times than not is an attendance disaster. For this very reason, I suppose I'm contradicting myself when ruling out Buffalo because back in 2011 that drew a flock of fans from the Ontario border creating a very much home ice advantage for Team Canada. Conversely however, I don't view going back to the same locale as a solid tool in growing the game in markets that are in desperate need of gravitation. Pittsburgh and St.Louis are viewed as cold climates in the winter, particularly Pittsburgh so it's not exactly a winter hot spot when trying to recruit fans out to the area to catch the games live. This leads back to the original hypothesis, why not Tampa Bay?
Tampa Bay over Christmas time? A child's dream if there ever was one. The warm weather, the ridiculously beautiful golf courses are a god send, particularly for us near Regina who do not reside in a golfing paradise province makes Florida over Christmas an enticing option for most. In an interview I listened to about a month ago, Bob McCown of the Fan 590, on his show "Prime Time Sports" brought on the chairman of the Tampa Bay bid to discuss feasibility. The outline was clearly laid out as the two rinks planned on being used were within walking distance of one another which for a tourist is absolutely ideal. Secondarily to that, these selections come at a time where the Tampa Bay Lightning have had a great deal of success so I'm confused as to the American hockey federation wasn't looking to capitalize on the momentum by awarding the WJHC to a market starving hockey lately. What this essentially boils down to is a lack of determination from this federation to invest solid resources in a tournament that they frankly don't give a flying rat about. Even the most elementary focus groups when discussing tournament pros and cons would've come to a consensus that a Tampa Bay junior tournament is a win-win for all parties involved. A regrettable marketing decision was made which saddens this blogger as a tournament I love in a golf heaven's state would've been right up my alley.