World Champions

Finland will co-host the next two editions of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship with Sweden – an opportunity that presents the world champions with a golden chance to develop the sport even further.

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“It’s a challenge and an opportunity – it’s like the Chinese word with both meanings,” says Mika Sulin. The Finn is general secretary of the organising committee for the next IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. But uniquely for those who have held his position, his work will not end when the lights go out after the gold-medal match on 20th May 2012. “The next two years of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship are two years shared between two countries,” $ 4 ¤}+            ”  in the same place two years in a row. Next year, the main venue is the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, and the second venue is the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, in Sweden. The semis, bronze and gold medal matches are in Finland. And then, in 2013, it’s vice versa.” What has become a great undertaking by two proud ice hockey nations – appropriately,    #  ()**  which saw Sulin’s home country claim the gold medal – did not start out like that. “It was never a shared bid,” Sulin continues. “Finland won 2012 and Sweden, the next year, won the 2013 championship. And then the Finnish and Swedish federations started to communicate together, and came to the conclusion that it  ” ”       things between the two countries.” ! & ##  #   ”   “You have to make a lot of investments for one world championship,” he says. “Now we can plan for two years with our investments for media, for the teams, for the fans. And I strongly believe that it will be a big boost for 2013 that it can be marketed through 2012 in both countries.” As well as that, of course, the surge in ticketing is all but guaranteed. “Finland will be playing both years in Finland, and Sweden will be playing both years in Sweden,” explains Sulin. “Both countries are playing in their home capital city, so for ticket sales that’s great. There are 350,000 tickets in Helsinki and 300,000 in Stockholm, so 650,000 in total. The record, I think, is from Prague in 2004, and that’s about 550,000 tickets.” }# #  ”  # #    ”  #  $    «4  #    €    veteran of the arena industry, is also a former professional hockey player. That has been vital to his work. “When you have played the game, you understand the players, and at the end of the day we do this for the players – they are the most important part,” he says. “Of course, we have fans who are very important, the media is important, our sponsors and partners are ”    #   ª Though the challenges faced by a joint hosting are new, the two hosts will be as   ” ¤}   Bratislava we played Sweden, and we won,” remembers the delighted Finn. “But behind the curtains, we have a very good relationship with the Swedish federation and the organising committee, and we were involved in an IIHF observer programme in Bratislava where we and the Swedes spent two days in workshops with everyone involved in the Bratislava organisation. Nearly 60 of us went through how they did ticketing, accreditation, security, media, logistics, everything. That gives a very good benchmarking from the last world championships, and it’s an example of how the hockey family works together towards the same goal.” Finland and Sweden will certainly play their part in that. “We have a plan, with the IIHF, to document this so that countries in the future who want to do a joint bid for the competition ”  # $   ª    Sulin, and there is far more on the table in terms of legacy. “We are looking for different things like that which we can leave behind us, both for the sport of hockey and for big events in Finland.” And, of course, for the sport itself in the    everything we can generate, we will put back 100 per cent to develop the sport,” says Sulin. “Youth development; training development; everything we can do. There’s a big competition nowadays for youngsters – are they back home playing on their video games? Are they going to   main sport in this country for the coming years, and we will strengthen the sport and keep it in pole position.” Finland will co-host the next two editions of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship with Sweden – an opportunity that presents the world champions with a golden chance to develop the sport even further. 114 2011 08 {filedir_26}SportsProMag_issue35_114.pdf [26376] [sportspro_august_2011] SportsPro August 2011