The risks and rewards of hosting the world junior tournament amid Hockey Canada scandal


Despite quite a few sponsors pulling out, group leaders in Halifax and Moncton, N.B., anticipate to generate financial profit from the world junior males’s hockey championship subsequent month — and possibly assist Hockey Canada flip the web page on a scandal that has left December’s occasion underneath a darkish cloud.

“I believe that there is a chance to take a look at hockey in a brand new manner and I believe there is no higher place than right here in Maritime Canada,” mentioned Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

“We have robust hockey traditions, but additionally actually robust actions by the hockey associations to advertise range and to make it possible for folks notice hockey belongs to all of us, not simply to a couple.”

Hockey Canada invited Halifax to bid after the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) pulled the tournament from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. In May, Halifax, in a joint bid with Moncton, gained the rights to host the occasion. 

At that point, intense stress started to mount in opposition to Hockey Canada following revelations it had quietly settled a lawsuit after a lady claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight gamers, together with members of the world junior workforce, following a 2018 gala in London, Ont.

WATCH | What’s at stake for the world junior host cities? 

What’s at stake for world juniors host cities

Despite monetary uncertainties as main sponsors pull out of the world junior hockey championship, officers in Halifax and Moncton are assured they will see an financial enhance from hosting this 12 months’s tournament.

After a summer time full of disastrous information for the scandal-plagued nationwide sport group, Hockey Canada introduced final month its CEO and board of administrators would step apart.

A lately de-classified report back to Halifax metropolis council reveals a $1 million funding as half of the metropolis’s bid for the world juniors, whereas the province of Nova Scotia has dedicated $2 million.

New Brunswick and Moncton have not shared their particular person commitments, however their whole involves $2 million.

Canada celebrates after defeating Finland 3-2 in time beyond regulation to seize gold at the 2022 IIHF world junior hockey championship in Edmonton in August. The occasion was rescheduled as a result of of COVID-19. The timing, in summer time, plus excessive ticket costs and the rising Hockey Canada scandal resulted in lots of empty seats. Halifax and Moncton anticipate significantly better turnout in December. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Officials assured of financial success

Halifax Coun. Tony Mancini has mentioned the tournament will convey a $50 million financial enhance to the two cities, with $35 million of it being in Nova Scotia.

Savage would not suppose there is a monetary danger, even with main sponsors Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Telus, Sobey’s and Esso pulling out in the wake of the Hockey Canada scandal, and the price of every part going up.

“We’re advised that the danger for us is fairly low,” he mentioned.

The head of Moncton’s Chamber of Commerce is a bit more cautious as a result of of the “uncertainty” over sponsorship {dollars}.

John Wishart says the metropolis will use cash from a neighborhood tourism lodge levy to prepare fan occasions.

“I believe from the native perspective, we have to do the greatest we will to separate what’s occurring with Hockey Canada from the product that is going to be on the ice and the expertise when individuals are right here,” he mentioned. 

“We have actually no management over what’s been occurring with Hockey Canada, so I believe we now have to place our greatest face on for the tournament itself, showcase what we’re providing, attempt to inject slightly bit of Maritime flavour into the occasion.”

Isabelle LeBlanc, Moncton’s communications director, mentioned there will likely be financial spin-offs, although she admitted it was an “uncommon 12 months.” 

The tournament moved from Russia to Canada and the state of affairs with Hockey Canada could have an effect,” she mentioned.

John Wishart, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, says the enterprise group will do every part it could actually to make world junior guests really feel at dwelling and have a good time. (Submitted by John Wishart)

Sponsor pull-outs could have an effect on broadcast rights

Experts additionally say there’s a draw back for an occasion normally a boon for any Canadian metropolis concerned.

“The world juniors are one of these occasions that must be worthwhile for any host metropolis,” mentioned Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University in Montreal.

There’s not lots of must construct new infrastructure — junior hockey-calibre arenas and the capacity to broadcast the video games exist already, he says.

Ticket gross sales are going robust in each cities, in distinction with the tournament in Edmonton this previous summer time after it was rescheduled as a result of the pandemic and tickets had been nonetheless obtainable on the eve of the tournament. 

IIHF officers mentioned the excessive worth of admission, the tournament’s odd timing and the then-growing Hockey Canada scandal had been guilty for low attendance.

The Halifax/Moncton occasion is again to its regular time from Boxing Day to early January, a vacation custom for a lot of hockey followers.

A composite image shows logos and signs for Canadian Tire, Telus, Tim Hortons, Esso, Pepsi, Bauer, Sobeys, Scotiabank, Chevrolet, Swiss Chalet and Nike.
Even with main sponsors Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Telus, Sobeys, Bauer and Esso pulling out of the world junior tournament in the wake of the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal, officers in Moncton and Halifax, the host cities for the 2022 tournament, consider the rewards outweigh the risks. (The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, Reuters, Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons)

Though sponsorships are a serious income supply which have diminished, Lander would not suppose the native financial system will undergo.

“They ought to nonetheless discover a solution to be worthwhile, however as an alternative of being very worthwhile, it is simply going to be modestly worthwhile,” he mentioned. “Better than Edmonton, however possibly not what we’re used to seeing from this kind of occasion.” 

However, Lander says there could also be an influence as Hockey Canada might get much less from TSN for the rights to broadcast the video games, since the community counts on massive sponsors to purchase industrial time. there will likely be a trickle-down impact.

Hockey Canada could get much less from TSN for the rights to broadcast the video games. TSN counts on massive sponsors to purchase industrial time.

Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander says there are some monetary and public relations risks with hosting an occasion in the center of a scandal, however he believes the native communities will finally be OK. (Moshe Lander)

“Commercial occasions are nonetheless going to be offered … but it surely’s simply not going to be the identical aggressive area of Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Telus competing for that promoting area,” Lander mentioned. 

“It is likely to be like Apple Auto Glass or these smaller corporations, which suggests they could get a greater worth and TSN would not get as a lot cash.”

Lander mentioned TSN could attempt to renegotiate its rights take care of Hockey Canada. As a consequence, the IIHF could get much less compensation from Hockey Canada for hosting the occasion. 

“It’s most likely Hockey Canada and TSN which are mixed to eat lots of the losses that come from this. They’re simply going to have to determine who’s liable for what.”

Some sponsorship cash already redirected

Bauer is one of the corporations that has “paused” its help, which means it’s now not the official gear provider for the males’s nationwide workforce, though Hockey Canada can proceed to buy its gear.

The firm additionally pulled its sponsorship for the IIHF tournaments for each Edmonton in the summer time and Halifax and Moncton this December, mentioned Mary Kay Messier, Bauer’s vice-president of international advertising.

Bauer is redirecting sponsorship {dollars} from the males’s program to ladies’s and grassroots packages. 

Zac Bell, proper, is a retired hockey participant and well-liked social media influencer who labored with Bauer to shock college students at a faculty in an under-served group in Toronto, one of the grassroots packages Bauer shifted some of its Hockey Canada sponsorship cash to. (Bauer)

As effectively, any earnings from the males’s hockey gear buy program will go towards the ladies’s and para-hockey groups and underrepresented communities, she mentioned.

“I believe everytime you make these choices, there’s all the time some penalties which are tough to take care of.”

The sister of former NHL star Mark Messier, mentioned Bauer’s focus is on what’s greatest for the recreation and Canadians. That consists of taking a look at the altering demographics of younger hockey gamers and offering gear, packages and alternatives at a grassroots stage.

“This is known as a give attention to a response to the disaster that is occurring in Canada and the want for change and the want to start to maneuver ahead, enable Canadians to heal and regain confidence in the sport of hockey,” she mentioned.

WATCH | Bauer advertising govt on resolution to pause help: 

Bauer is newest Hockey Canada sponsor to drag help

Bauer’s Vice-President of Global Marketing Mary-Kay Messier says Bauer’s assertion at present was the ‘last resort.’ ‘We had been working behind the scenes, assembly with Hockey Canada executives, to strive and align on the adjustments wanted … and we weren’t aligned,” mentioned Messier.

News round tourney will give attention to scandal

International media is normally an excellent factor, however Lander mentioned the precise competitors must share headlines with the Hockey Canada scandal surrounding the tournament.

An earlier case allegedly came about in Halifax. 

Police are investigating after a supply offered names of at the very least two members of the 2003 world junior hockey workforce who could have appeared in a video of an alleged group sexual assault in Halifax almost 20 years in the past.

“It’s going to be unimaginable for any nation to not broadcast again to its dwelling nation that Hockey Canada is embroiled in scandal,” Lander mentioned

“And not solely here is what occurred, but it surely really occurred right here the place the occasion is at the moment happening. And so, you recognize, the implication for Halifax is, it is a black eye for the metropolis that is going to be broadcast round the hockey world,” he mentioned. 

“It’s going to be two weeks of repeatedly dangerous press broadcast round the world and it is going to be actually tough for TSN to strive and take that goal distance and say, ‘Let’s simply give attention to the hockey, and let’s not give attention to precisely what occurred in the metropolis a couple of years in the past.’ “

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage is assured his metropolis will reap the financial spin-offs of the world junior hockey tournament subsequent month. (Submitted by Riley Smith)

Savage, Halifax’s mayor, would not consider it will likely be a problem.

“Lots of the youngsters who will likely be taking part in on this tournament weren’t even alive in 2003,” he mentioned.

“The allegations are in opposition to the hockey gamers, not in opposition to the group. We’ve all the time been an incredible hosting group. We have an incredible popularity for treating folks with respect, ensuring that it is a secure group, and that is definitely what we intend to do.”

“We must rectify the errors of the previous and we now have to do higher and I believe that there is a chance to showcase that,” Savage mentioned.

Wishart agrees. The CEO of Moncton’s Chamber of Commerce says the metropolis has a chance to place itself as half of the world juniors reset. 

“And, with Halifax, present that we will placed on a tournament safely, that the fan expertise is sweet, that the product on the ice is sweet, and possibly begin a brand new chapter on this storied historical past of this tournament and what it means to host communities,” he mentioned.


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