TORONTO – – Holding the annual Under-20 IIHF Wold Junior Hockey Championship in Canada is supposed to be a success regardless of which city hosts it.
However, Hockey Canada appears to have hit a wall selling the tournament in Montreal.
The Bell Centre, which plays home to the Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home of the Maple Leafs, are the two venues for this year’s tournament.
Though Canada’s quarterfinal match versus Denmark on Friday night drew 18,448 at the ACC, which has a capacity of 18,819, attendance numbers in Montreal were disappointing at this year’s event.
Canada’s four games at the Bell Centre, all wins, drew an average crowd of 15,222 well under the capacity of the arena, which has a capacity of 21,287 for Canadiens games.
“We’ll look at everything for sure, but we’ll do that when the tournament is over,” Hockey Canada’s President and CEO, Tom Renney, told PHT.
According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, fans at the Canada-U.S. Dec. 31st game were offered the opportunity to move down from the upper bowl, to the lower bowl, to make it appear that seats were full. That game had an announced attendance of 18,295.
The game that followed at 8 p.m. ET had just 3,991 fans to see Finland blank Germany 2-0.
When asked if he had an idea of why attendance was lacking in Montreal, Renney responded: “I do, but I’ll share that at a later date. It’s not really necessary to talk about that just yet. I think as much as we all have to work to be a solution to what might happen in Montreal moving forward. We’ll concern ourselves with that when the competition is over.”
Montreal and Toronto will split the U-20 tournament again 2017.