The World Junior Hockey Championship returns to Buffalo next month. Teams from ten countries will be competing and the event is expected to draw thousands of visitors.
There's been a lot of changes downtown in the seven years since the last World Juniors were held in Buffalo, the only U.S. city to ever host the event. To help things run as smooth as possible, an informational session for local hotels, restaurants and attractions was held Wednesday.
Visit Buffalo Niagara and Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission President and CEO Patrick Kaler says dozens of volunteers will be outside KeyBank Center, HarborCenter, and host hotels to help visitors navigate downtown.
"We will be out on the street again with our Ask Me signs. We also have scarves and hats that our volunteers will be wearing that are bright orange in our branded colors," Kaler said.
World Junior Championship Director Rob Crean, with the Buffalo Sabres, says the 11-day event includes the World Juniors' first-ever outdoor game. The U.S. and Canada face off at New Era Field December 29.
"The most excitement regarding the tournament is around the outdoor game. So it's been fantastic. And, I do think, that on an international stage it's going to be special. Obviously all the games will be broadcast on TSN up in Canada as well as the NHL Network here. But we've also got two different TV stations from Sweden are expected to be here covering a lot of the games as well as potentially broadcast crews from Czech Republican, Russia and Finland," Crean said.
The event runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. While it's to soon to say exactly how many visitors it will attract, Kaler says, the teams and officials alone are expected to occupy 7,300 room nights in downtown hotels and have $7 million economic impact.