We got it! Sault Ste. Marie was selected to host the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Taking place next year from October 28 to November 6, the tournament features eight teams from around the globe and will attract hundreds of visitors to the community. Hockey Canada made the event announcement earlier today.
“Our organization and community have partnered with Hockey Canada to host widely successful events in the past, and I have no doubt that, given our city’s top-notch sports and accommodations facilities, along with our solid volunteer core, the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will continue this positive tradition,” said Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge features three teams from Canada, one from the United States and four from Europe. To accommodate visiting players, staff and dignitaries, the tournament requires 1,750 hotel room nights to be available for the week-long period. While offering outstanding competition for local fans, the event also provides a significant financial boon for the host city. For instance, the 2014 tourney in Sydney, Nova Scotia generated $3.8 million in total economic activity, with $2.6 million occurring in the host community. And with the final games broadcast on national television, there are promotional benefits for the host city as well.
With such economic and marketing benefits, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie partnered with the City of Sault Ste. Marie to bid on the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Together, they worked with Hockey Canada to secure the hosting rights. To make the local bid possible, City Council committed to support the event with a $25,000 (maximum) investment from its Economic Development Fund. Sault Ste. Marie was originally expected to host the 2015 tournament, however, it was agreed that the following year made more sense from a logistical standpoint.
Meanwhile, attracting major events to the community is a main focus of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. In 2014, such sports tournaments and conferences generated 22,780 visitor days, which led to $3.2 million in direct visitor spending and millions of more dollars in indirect economic activity. Over the past five years, event attraction activity from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie generated 173,280 visitor days and $24.4 million in direct visitor spending.