Slovenia, Hungary mount joint bid to host Ice-Hockey Worlds in 2023

Ljubljana – Slovenia and Hungary have announced a joint bid to host the Ice-Hockey World Championship in 2023 after both teams secured berths in the elite division of ice-hockey at a tournament in Ljubljana.

“A month ago the IIHF decided that St. Petersburg will not host the elite group next year, which is why we have come up with the idea to quickly organise it together with our Hungarian friends,” Matjaž Rakovec, the head of the Slovenian Ice-Hockey Association, told the press on Sunday evening.

One preliminary group would play in Ljubljana, at the Stožice Arena, which would also host two quarter-final games. The remaining games would be played in Budapest, which has a much bigger arena.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity … a chance for decision-makers to show that small countries can get an opportunity. We have geographical and organisational proximity, and a lot of teams in the elite group are close by as well,” said Gyorgy Such, the head of the Hungarian Ice-Hockey Association.

While preparations typically take two to three years, the officials are confident Slovenia and Hungary can pull it off in a year.

“This cannot be compared to previous organising of events. Luckily, we will not only have staff that knows all about organising world championship, but also those who have experience with major competitions, such as the European basketball and volleyball championships. It will be a big challenge but I’m not afraid,” Rakovec said.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has already inspected the potential venue in Slovenia and accommodation facilities, so there should no problem, he noted. The Tivoli Arena would be offered as a practice facility. The Stožice Arena would, however, have to be modified into an ice hockey arena.

“We’ve calculated Stožice could be prepared to welcome at least 9,000 people. At world championships so far, there has always been one arena for at least 12,000 and another for 7,000-9,000 spectators. Stožice definitely fits in that category,” he said.

He estimates that the budget for the event would be around EUR 20 million, which was the cost of the last world championship with spectators hosted by Slovakia. Slovenia and Hungary would share both the costs and profit 50:50, with Slovenia being the lead partner in the project.

The IIHF will decide on the championship’s hosts in Finland at the end of the month. Usually the IIHF congress decides on the hosts but given the emergency situation because of Russia’s exclusion, the IIHF council could make the decision and Slovenia enjoys its support, according to Rakovec.