The following is an open letter to Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission.
Dear Mr. Viverito,
We haven't met, but I'm a big fan of the St. Louis Sports Commission. Your organization has been responsible for bringing to St. Louis some of the most well-known sporting events in the country. I have personally attended the Final Four, the Frozen Four, other NCAA basketball events and the MLB All Star Game -- all events your organization was influential in successfully hosting. I write to you urging St. Louis to compete to host another event that is possibly more famous outside this country that would bring many visitors to the city and put St. Louis on the map in international hockey circles.
On Thursday night the International Ice Hockey Federation will host its World Under 20 Championship. More commonly known as the World Junior Hockey Tournament, the event brings together national developmental hockey teams from the U.S. Canada and across Europe. The NHL is filled with players who have participated in the tournament, including the St. Louis Blues' own Alex Pietrangelo, Ian Cole, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk who all represented their home countries in recent years. Possibly the game's best player, Sidney Crosby, first stepped into the spotlight for team Canada as a teenager. The best and brightest young players from around the world participate in this event. What that translates to is strong followings from hockey-crazed nations such as Canada, Sweden and Russia.
Tune in on NHL Network on Thursday night, sir, and see the turnout for the bronze and gold-medal games. Canada fell to Russia Tuesday night, but the arena will be packed to the rafters in Alberta. I guarantee it. Just think how many people would fill the Scottrade Center for games and how many of them would be from other parts of the United States, Canada and Europe. Plus, there are enough games that the tournament uses a secondary rink. The Family Arena in St. Charles would be a perfect secondary facility. That would mean using the tourism resources from that neighboring community as well.
I know this sounds like a lot of work. There's sponsorships to line up, proposals to be written and partners to be found at U.S.A. Hockey. The Blues would have to agree to give up some home dates right around Christmas. There are some hurdles to this proposal, but there's time to get everything in order. The tournament moves to Russia next year then Sweden the year after and then back to Canada. So that's three years it can't be here. That's plenty of time to get the local hockey community (and don't be mistaken, it's strong and growing) mobilized and on board. The event for 2016 or 2018 could be here in St. Louis. And don't think it goes to Minneapolis every time it comes to the U.S. Buffalo and Grand Forks, N.D., have been the most recent American host cities. Surely St. Louis can beat out North Dakota.
This will be worth it. Organizers in Edmonton and Calgary estimated the attendance for the tournament at 475,000 and more than $42 million pumped into the local economy. This event means hotel rooms, restaurant reservations, rental cars, plane flights and bar tabs, not to mention Canadian-colored body paint.
Sir, St. Louis hockey fans would support this event. It would help the local economy and bring prestige to our city. I urge you and the St. Louis Sports Commission to explore hosting the World Junior Hockey Tournament sometime in this decade. With the commission's successful track record, I know a St. Louis bid would be competitive and a great opportunity for the city to be showcased on a new stage.
Thank you for your time.
Brad Lee, a St. Louis hockey fan
Anyone who would like to urge the St. Louis Sports Commission to pursue the World Juniors, email Mr. Viverito at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message via Twitter to @STLSportsCom.