World Cup 2011: Why It’s Happening in 2011, and How We’d Like it to Look

We’ve opined on the possibility of the NHL hosting a World Cup before.  We figured at that time that the idea of a world tournament featuring the pros would bring ESPN (and possibly others) to the bargaining table when it would come time to negotiate for the new NHL cable/network package:


So look at it this way:  To sweeten a bidding war between Disney and Comcast, the NHL throws in rights to all the important games of a World Cup that would likely feature A.  Crosby and Ovechkin in their prime, B. A even better Team USA than will likely show for 2010, and C. The cavalcade of young talent, which the NHL and it’s fans have never seen before, all shown off in one big hodgepodge of talented, skilled play.  

A World Cup in 2012 or 2014 would have a chance to be the best international hockey tournament ever played.  You can bet that ESPN would want in on it, and anything else hockey-related that they can keep away from rival networks.


Well, this latest report from Scott Burnside even further proves that statement, as the World Cup is likely coming sooner than I’d have originally thought:

The NHL will continue to send teams to Europe to kick off its regular season, and the world’s best players will meet in the 2011 World Cup of Hockey now that the league and players’ association have reached a compromise on how revenues from those international efforts will be divvied up, has learned.

I’m sure tons of you read that statement and thought “2011?  There’s no real ring to a 2011 WCH.  What up, NHL?”  Well, here’s what’s up.  The NHL’s deal with VERSUS for televising hockey ends in June of 2011.  Which means, a World Cup, held in the Fall of 2011 in arenas around the world, would be the first event under the NHL’s next television deal, be it with VERSUS/NBC, ESPN, or somebody else.

This will, in our opinion, drive up the NHL’s business to a slightly higher number than it would get for simply NHL regular season/playoffs/Stanley Cup.  It’d likely bring their price over $100 million, which would increase national TV revenues for each team by $1-2 million.  Every little TV bit helps.

Our guess is that NBC will leave the league if either the network or the NHL gets out of the Olympic business (bidding for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia will be decided within 12 months).  But if neither does, as the PA seems to indicate is their intention, NBC will likely continue to show what little hockey they do.  But perhaps they get involved in the World Cup after ratings for the games in Vancouver draw well.  Not very extensive, maybe the Championship and a Saturday/Sunday afternoon Team USA game, but it’d give the 2011 Cup better TV exposure than ’96 (FX/FSN) or ’04 (ESPN2) ever did.

Now, we thought about the tournament for a little while, and wondered where the NHL would host the games in it’s two home nations, the U.S. and Canada.  Here are five sites in the States we think the World Cup should go to:

United States

1. United Center, Chicago, IL

Chicago Blackhawks czar recently stated in a team-run podcast that he would like to bring the United Center into the bidding for a future World Junior Championships hosting duty.  Well, wouldn’t this do it one better?  It’s probable that the Hawks will still be in their prime when the 2011-12 season rolls around, which means the idea of 20,000 people at the UC for hockey is totally palpable, regardless of teams.  Of course, as you know, no one quite gets into the American spirit like Chicago puckheads.

2. Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA

ESPN’s John Buccigross recently touted Philly as America’s best hockey market.  I’m not so certain about that claim, but they do seem to support their Flyers, win or lose, so it makes sense to think that it’ll support Team USA.  It’d be the ultimate home ice advantage, as Philly fans, radio hosts and YouTubers will likely throw a number of pranks Canada’s way.  Philly also hosted the ’96 Cup to great acclaim.

3. HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA

It’s certainly high time that San Jose fans were avoided another marquee event to show itself off as one of the league’s most ardently loud fanbases.  The ’97 All-Star Game remains the most entertaining one in the past 12 years, not that there’s been much competition.  It’d be another real big home-ice advantage for the Americans, and I think they should look at creating a good environment for the team to play in front of before ticket sales.  Though, San Jose or Philly could do both.

4. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

I was going to use my pulpit here to desperately convince you all that Newark should get a shot, but nevermind.  Anyway, if the World Cup wants to do it big-time, you come to the Garden, especially in 2011, when renovations on the World’s Most Famous Arena are scheduled to be done, giving MSG a great shot at showing off what they’ve done with the place.  The atmosphere would be electric.

5. American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Well, why not?  Let’s bring one of these events south of Philly for once and give Dallas, which has a pretty good hockey fanbase for a southern market, a chance to host Team USA.  They could hold training camp in one of the myriad rinks the Stars have built in Texas, and would have a loud, pro-USA crowd in attendance.  Very little chance you see many transplants rooting for other countries down in Dallas


6 Responses to World Cup 2011: Why It’s Happening in 2011, and How We’d Like it to Look

  1. Don’t forget that Consol Energy Center will have replaced Ye Olde Mellon Arena by 2011. Sports leagues love to show off the newest barns for big events, which should at least give Pittsburgh a leg up on Philly in the “traditional market smaller than NYC and Chicago” category.

  2. stevelepore says:

    Tremblay, you make a terrific point, and it’s an honor to have you commenting here, sir.

  3. dyhrdmet says:

    it’s a shame that the new arena in Newark probably wouldn’t get a look here. I’m just thinking of “The NHL Presents the World Cup of Hockey on the CW Network brought to you by NHL2K11”

  4. CellBlock 303 in Nashville would come up with special chants and make that building sing…

    just sayin’.


    (And yes, I know Nashville won’t even get a look for a World Cup game BUT when I lived in the Bay Area, the Sharks got to host a World Cup “friendly” in 1996 and it was some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen. Nashville should at least be on the list for one of those “warm-up” games.

    Besides… what’s more “southern” than American Pride? Nothing.

  5. jj says:

    Philly, New York, Chicago, Montreal should host the games

  6. Kevlar says:

    You guys are missing an obvious point here. Do you know what half of the fun of the soccer world cup and the Olympics is? The race to HOST! Often that is more exciting that the action. Make Canadian and US cities and regions bid against each other. Competition is a great motivator.

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