Penguins fans file into the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Bob Casey has submitted a letter to IIHF president Rene Fasel in support of Pittsburgh’s bid for the 2018 World Junior Championship, which is set to be held in the United States. In a statement, Casey said, “With all due respect to Detroit, Pittsburgh really is America’s hockey capital.” Detroit, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Glendale are also in the running for the 2018 competition.
The World Junior Championship is heading to the United States in 2018, but the host city has yet to be determined. If U.S. Senator Bob Casey gets his wish, though, Pittsburgh will be home to the 2018 competition.
On Wednesday, Senator Casey released a statement publically urging the IIHF to bring the tournament to Pittsburgh and personally addressed a letter to IIHF president Rene Fasel with regards to Pittsburgh’s bid for the tournament. At present, five potential American host cities are known, including Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Glendale or Detroit. Casey offered his two cents on the potential of Pittsburgh as a host.
“With all due respect to Detroit, Pittsburgh really is America’s hockey capital. Selecting Pittsburgh would be good for the city and the tournament. The opportunity to play in front of some of the nation’s most enthusiastic hockey fans will only add to the tournament,” Senator Casey said. “Pittsburgh has a successful record of hosting major events. Adding the 2018 World Juniors to the city’s roster of major events would contribute to the revitalization occurring in Pittsburgh and throughout the region.”
Well, that’s sure to make some Detroit hockey fans unhappy. After all, you don’t earn the title ‘Hockeytown’ overnight.
The point about America’s hockey capital aside, Casey focused his argument for Pittsburgh as the 2018 World Junior site on city’s history of hosting major sporting events, as well as extolling the virtues of the Penguins’ home, the CONSOL Energy Center, and what it can provide the tournament as a venue.
“The CONSOL Energy Center was the first environmentally friendly, LEED-certified hockey arena in the National Hockey League,” Casey wrote. “In addition to hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was the host venue for the highly successful NCAA’s 2013 Men’s Ice Hockey Championships Frozen Four.”
Hosting the Frozen Four might actually help out the Penguins’ bid, as, while not as major as the World Juniors, the NCAA championship tournament is a high profile competition that attracts large crowds and is surrounded by quite a bit of hubbub.
One problem, though, as pointed out by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jonathan Bombulie: "Casey's pitch is misplaced slightly because the IIHF is not the driving force in deciding which American city will host the tournament," Bombulie writes.
Instead, USA Hockey will be heading up the decision on which cities become finalists, Bombulie reported. At this point, USA Hockey spokesman David Fischer told Bombulie there are at least 12 to 15 cities expressing interest.
There hasn’t been a reported decision date for the tournament's locale, but cities generally know if they will be hosting two years in advance. On that timeline, Pittsburgh and Casey could potentially know if the city has landed the competition by the time the 2016 tournament, which begins in December 2015, comes to a close.
For all the good that Casey’s letter may have done, regardless of the part it was sent to, we can’t go without pointing out one glaring error. In speaking about Pittsburgh’s rich hockey history, Casey offers a puzzling statistic about the Penguins.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins have won four Stanley Cups since joining the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1967,” the letter to Fasel states.
Casey was close, but the Penguins, Stanley Cup champions in 1991, 1992 and 2009, are one shy of his championship tally. While we’re certain it’s a simple typo, it’s a funny for that error to appear right before Casey quotes the Penguins’ fans distinction as, “Best Local Fan Base in the NHL,” as judged by Nielsen in 2013.