Burlington Ready to Welcome World in 2012

USA Hockey today announced that Burlington, Vt., has been selected to host the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship.

The tournament will be held April 7-14, with the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse serving as the primary site for the tournament. Cairns Arena in South Burlington will serve as the secondary site.

There will be 22 total games, with all of Team USA’s and Team Canada’s games being played at Gutterson.

According to Executive Director Dave Ogrean, Burlington beat out the Twin Cities, Hartford, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. The Burlington Free Press also mentioned Kalamazoo, Mich., was also among the finalists.

Burlington is probably the right kind of place to host an event like this. Repeatedly during the press conference, Burlington’s hockey heritage was mentioned. According to UVM athletic director, Bob Corran, “community support is extraordinary [for hockey].”

Ogrean said that the World Women’s Championship is “an event that fits well in Burlington.”

Gutterson Fieldhouse holds 4300 spectators, which is a perfect size for the tournament. I don’t see how they’d have any trouble filling it for many, if not all, of Canada’s and USA’s games.

Gutterson Fieldhouse actually hosted the very first nationally televised women’s hockey game in 1998, in a pre-Olympic match-up between the U.S. and Canada. That game was sold out, and loud.

It wouldn’t be surprising to me to see this event be one of the best attended World Women’s Championships held. Proximity to Canada helps, as it did for the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, but I think we’ll see a few more blue jerseys than red ones this time around.

This is a smart move by USA Hockey to go into one of the smaller cities that bid on the event. Women’s hockey has continually grown in New England and hosting it within that region should only help that growth.

A chance to see women’s hockey stars, like Angela Ruggiero, who spoke at today’s announcement, should be an inspiration for many young girls in the community. That fact was not lost on Gov. Pete Shumlin.

Gov. Shumlin said he was excited to see how this event helps the growth of women’s and girls’ hockey in Vermont. Additionally, he feels the World Women’s Championship can have a strong economic impact on Burlington and the state as a whole. He said that hosting the event is “a real honor for all Vermonters.”

TSN holds the rights to televise the event, and odds are, due to the location it will televise a fair amount of the tournament. Whether or not that is picked up in the U.S. won’t be known for some time.

Regardless of whether or not its televised anytime you can host a major international event, it’s great for the community, the state and the country that is hosting.

When the Women’s World Championship is held in Europe, media coverage is sparse. When it’s close to home, its sure to bring more domestic media attention. It won’t be a top story on ESPN.com, but it will at least be more visible to sports fans in the U.S. That will only help women’s hockey.

In addition to extended media coverage, the 2012 tournament serves as somewhat of the half-way point to the 2014 Olympics. Around that time, women’s national programs are really stepping up preparations for the Olympics, so it means you can expect high intensity hockey out of these women.

This event will go a long way in promoting the women’s game both domestically and internationally. It should be a lot of fun to watch.

I think picking Burlington was the right choice at the right time and the event should be highly successful. I’m excited to see how it plays out over the next 15 months.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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