Red Deer’s Servus Arena will be put to a good use come August 2018, as the City hosts a portion of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
On Dec. 11th, City council approved $75,000 to Hockey Canada for the hosting of the tournament.
“With securing this tournament it allows the arena to begin its next era of history,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“Not only is it a huge honour for Red Deer to be among the two chosen Canadian cities for the first time that it comes to Canada for international tourism, it also gives Red Deer a very formal opportunity for us to partner with the City of Edmonton as one of the corridor cities.”
The tournament brings together the eight top hockey nations in the world to compete against each other in a ‘best on best’ competition of under 18-year-old athletes.
Competing teams come from Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland.
The memorial tournament is named after Hlinka, a Czech pro hockey star and NHL coach who passed away in a car accident in 2004.
The tournament is traditionally hosted in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but will be hosted by Hockey Canada in Edmonton and Red Deer in 2018, 2020 and 2022.
Games between the eight nations will be played in both the Rogers Arena and Servus Arena throughout the week-long event.
“It’s important for us to start with a conservative approach but we’re really looking forward to it and it was a great opportunity for us to be able to use a brand new arena and start its history like the mayor said,” said Stu Ballantyne, senior vice president of operations for the Oilers Entertainment Group.
He added that it’s better for this tournament to be shared.
“We were considering whether we could have it all in Edmonton or would it be better off for us to split the round robin and Red Deer was a natural partner for us. Between Hockey Canada, The Oilers Entertainment Group, the Rebels and the two cities, I think it’s going to be a great partnership,” said Ballantyne.
Councillors around the table were also excited to support the decision.
Speaking in support, among the other councillors, were Ken Johnston and Lawrence Lee.
“I’m very excited to support this request for all of the reasons outlined in the presentation around sports tourism,” said Johnston.
Lee said he supported it not only because of the economic impact it would bring to the region, but the impact to the youth as well.
“I’m going to speak to supporting it because it’s such an inspiration to our youth in our community. They are the ones that will benefit from the future of watching events like this.”
The 2018 tournament will kick off at the Servus Arena with an exhibition game between Team Canada and the Czech Republic on Aug. 4th.
Servus Arena will then host two games per day on Aug. 6th, 7th and 8th, featuring Team(s) U.S.A., Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic.