Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, loves what Buffalo has to offer for the 2011 world junior championships. He is thrilled with the community's passion for hockey. He admires the zeal shown by the Sabres while landing the event. He thinks the region has enough activities to captivate the world.
So he has no problem setting the bar as high as it can go.
"We believe this event has the potential to be the very best world junior championship ever held," Ogrean said Monday. "We know that this is going to be the most successful world junior championship ever held in the United States, and we think it will compare to any that were held anywhere."
Ogrean was among the politicians and hockey executives who filled the HSBC Arena atrium to formally announce the prestigious tournament will come to Western New York. For 10 days starting Dec. 26, 2010, the world's best players under age 20 will compete in HSBC Arena and Niagara University's Dwyer Arena.
"Congratulations to USA Hockey for making a spectacular choice," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "This is a great opportunity for the young future stars of our game to be showcased."
USA Hockey picked Buffalo over two other finalists, Minnesota and North Dakota. The organization was impressed by Buffalo's bid package, spearheaded by Sabres minority owner and managing partner Larry Quinn. But that was just one of the aspects that put Buffalo over the top.
"The factors were: Where would the athletes have the best experience? Where would the fans have the best experience?" Ogrean said. "The tournament needs to be financially viable, and we have no doubt with the support of the Sabres organization and this entire community that this will be an enormously successful tournament and will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit hockey throughout New York State."
It helps that Canada is close by, too. Fans in Toronto are sure to be eager to get tickets.
Sabres owner Tom Golisano is bankrolling the venture. He said the financial risks and rewards were minimal. But the boost to the local economy won't be. The event is estimated to bring at least $6 million into the community, while Bettman threw out $20 million.
"This is a huge win for Buffalo and all of hockey-loving Western New York," Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in an e-mail. "This marquee event will bring much-needed tourism dollars and first-rate hockey talent from around the world into Western New York."
The world juniors feature 10 countries playing a total of 31 games. Seventeen will be played in Buffalo, and Niagara will host the other 14. Sabres season-ticket and mini-pack holders will get ticket priority. Packages announced Monday range from $493 to $1,240, with tickets costing between $29 and $49 per game.
Individual tickets will go on sale in either late November or early December. Information can be found at buffaloworldjuniors.com.
"This is an opportunity for the Buffalo Sabres to showcase the sport and showcase our community," Golisano said. "The excitement that this will bring to the Buffalo and Western New York area is absolutely terrific."