The U.S. will host the World Juniors for the sixth time ever in 2018, and that event will end up in Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh or Tampa.
I’m going to advise the bookies to make Pittsburgh the favorite, but really, it’s anybody’s guess.
If you look at the finalists, you’ll notice a trend. They are all NHL cities and NHL arenas. That’s what I would expect to see in the future. That means it appears the days of Grand Forks hosting a World Junior Championship are gone.
Strangely enough, Grand Forks and its success may be to blame. Here’s a column from today’s paper on how GF launch the World Juniors into a new era of success and into an era where it is too big for places like… Grand Forks.
As I noted in the column, it’s a bummer that Grand Forks won’t see a WJC again, but it has the next best thing coming right up in April. The World Under-18s are going to be here. It’s an outstanding tournament.
I also know that REA officials have kept an eye on the Women’s Worlds and the Women’s U18 Worlds as well. It wouldn’t be a shocker if The Ralph bid on one of those sometime in the future and won out.
I also know that REA general manager Jody Hodgson is extremely popular among USA Hockey’s top officials and is a big reason why Grand Forks secured the World U18s.
A member of the USA Hockey senior staff recently told me that Hodgson is “a forward thinker, innovative, straight-forward and great to work with. Jody plays heavily in favor of The Ralph and the community of Grand Forks.”
Even so, that’s not enough to overcome all the factors working against Grand Forks and The Ralph in its attempt to host the World Juniors again.
USA’s World Juniors (attendance)
1982 — Minneapolis (86,941)
1989 — Anchorage (45,934)
1996 — Boston (53,346, estimated)
2005 — Grand Forks (195,771)
2011 — Buffalo (331,297)
2018 — TBD (finalists: Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tampa)
The next opportunity that the U.S. would have to host a World Juniors would be 2022.
I’m guessing that the best chance for local hockey fans to have a nearby World Juniors would either be if St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center lands it in the future or if Canada picks Winnipeg.
Winnipeg hosted the event in 1999 along with Brandon. Since then, nearly every Canadian major city has been able to host. I’m guessing Quebec City will get it in 2019 or 2021. Winnipeg has to be a candidate for the other year.
Future World Junior sites
2016 — Helsinki, Finland
2017 — Montreal and Toronto
2018 — United States (TBD)
2019 — Canada (TBD)
2020 — Czech Republic (TBD)
2021 — Canada (TBD)