CALGARY - The cities of Calgary and Edmonton, usually the most bitter of rivals, are teaming up to host the 2012 world junior hockey championship.
Hockey Canada announced Thursday that the event is returning to Alberta for the first time since Red Deer hosted the 1995 tournament.
Calgary and Edmonton won out over a bid by Toronto.
"The business plan was absolutely unbelievable and the connection from grassroots hockey in this province, Hockey Alberta, the Western Hockey League to the two NHL teams was as good as we've ever seen," said Bob Nicholson, the president of Hockey Canada.
"It will be the first time that every player in this event will get to play in an NHL arena and that is special for European players as well as Canadian players."
However, fans in the two rival cities are going to have to be patient since Canada can only play its games out of one city.
"We'll definitely have a schedule where the Canadian team will have to stay in one arena for the regular games and the finals will be in the other," admitted Nicholson. "We've worked that through pretty well with the committee already and we feel very confident that both sites are going to be well looked after from the Canadian side."
Nicholson wouldn't divulge how the split would work but that wasn't the case for former NHL player Jim Peplinski, co-chair of the Alberta bid.
Peplinski says it looks at this point like Edmonton will host the round-robin games and Calgary will get the playoff rounds.
"We've looked at pricing and we've looked at demographics and we said, you know what, Edmonton can make this work with Canada in their pool," said Peplinski. "And the medal games can go to Calgary because of scheduling and a bunch of other variables and there was never a bone of contention between us."
The Canadian team will be playing on home ice at three of the next four tournaments.
The world junior championship will be hosted by Ottawa this winter before going to Saskatoon and Regina in 2010. Canada has won gold at the past four world junior tournaments.
The number of tournaments being held in Canada is not a concern for a senior official with the International Ice Hockey Federation. Horst Lichtner, the IIHF's general secretary, said that won't hurt the event's popularity in Europe.
"It is absolutely OK that hockey goes where hockey is strong. Junior hockey in the IIHF would not be the same without Canada," said Lichtner.
"It was absolutely the right thing to do. Our teams appreciate travelling. Don't underestimate the positives for all the other teams playing, the Swedes, the Finns, the Russians. Playing in Canada, in a country where hockey is what it is, these experiences they take home will help hockey in other countries."
The 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place from late December 2011 to early January, 2012 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary and Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The schedule will consist of 31 games, created and approved by both the IIHF and the 10 competing countries.
"There's no question we expect this to break all the (attendance) records because it will be the first time we've been able to play all the games in NHL buildings," said Nicholson.
"In Ottawa it's going to break a record but it's going to continue to grow, but when you look ahead to 2012 this should set records too."
The Alberta bid included a projected championship attendance record of more than 475,000 tickets sold and an estimated economic impact to the province of Alberta of over $45 million.
It also guarantees affordability for families, with 42 per cent of the championship tickets to be priced between $12 and $40 each, and a legacy plan that will have a long-lasting impact on hockey in Alberta at the conclusion of the event.