USA Hockey guaranteed $800K


GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- USA Hockey says it will make money on the World Junior Hockey Championship for the first time in the four years it has hosted the international event.

Ralph Engelstad Arena Inc. guaranteed $800,000 to the hockey organization for the right to host the tournament in Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, Minn.

"This one's a whole different level financially compared to the other ones we've hosted," said Jim Johannson, senior director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, which also hosted the world championship in 1982 (Minneapolis), 1989 (Anchorage, Alaska) and 1996 (Boston).

When the event was held in Nova Scotia in 2003, it generated a record $3.7 million for hockey programs in Canada, where the sport is more popular. Officials south of the border are trying to raise awareness of the sport, and say national media coverage on ESPN of this year's tournament should help raise its profile.

The $800,000 guarantee to USA hockey, along with any other profits, will go toward amateur hockey programs, including the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association and Minnesota Hockey.

USA Hockey is getting 80 percent of the profits from ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships and television rights, said Chris Semrau, a spokesman for Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The tournament budget is $4 million, with about $225,000 coming from the city of Grand Forks and state of North Dakota. The arena is getting 10 percent of the gate profits, and revenue from concessions and merchandise sales. Those sales are setting records for the facility, said Earl Strinden, acting manager of the arena.

Strinden said the successful financial showing improves the odds of the tournament returning to Grand Forks in the future.

"Even though we won't make a windfall, we're going to do OK," he said.