On May 7, 2010, history will be made as the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship will be played in a football (soccer) stadium with a potential capacity of 75,976.
The German Ice Hockey Association (DEB), along with representatives from FC Schalke 04, the IIHF and the German 2010 Organizing Committee, made the announcement in a press conference today at the future World Championship venue, the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, home of a top-league German soccer team, Schalke 04.
Should the host organizers sell out the game, it would create a new world record for hockey attendance in a single game, breaking the current record of 74,554, which was set between American university teams Michigan State and Michigan in East Lansing, Michigan in 2001. Tickets for the opening game are already available and cost 19 Euros (standing). The lowest priced seating ticket is 29 Euros.
The 2010 IIHF World Championship will be played roughly three months after the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. It will be Germany's first IIHF World Championship since 2001.
IIHF President René Fasel said of the plan, “This should be a showcase event, which will bring together everything we have learned about staging the IIHF World Championship in a perfect setting. Together with the 2010 Organizing Committee and our long-standing marketing partner Infront we will create a landmark for our sport.”
"At the opening game of the 2001 IIHF World Championship we had to leave far too many of the almost 80.000 ticket requests unfulfilled. The Veltins-Arena now offers the chance to
respond to the expected tremendous interest of the fans", explains Uwe Harnos, President of the Organizing Committee.
Harnos is also excited about how the game will impact the rest of the 2010 World Championship "The opening game plays a very special role as a kick-off for the entire 2010 IIHF World Championship with a total of 56 games in Cologne, Mannheim and Gelsenkirchen and it shall create a wave of enthusiasm, which carries us through the whole World Championship.”
Team Germany is planned to skate in the historic opening game, with potential opponents being Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland or the Czech Republic.
The first idea to hold the opening game of the championship in a soccer arena came shortly after Germany was awarded the 2010 World Championship in 2005. In September 2008, the project was introduced to the IIHF semi-annual congress in Montreux and then approved by the IIHF as well as by the federations of the nations participating in the 2010 IIHF World Championship. As the IIHF Championship Regulations intend for only a maximum of two Championship venues, a special permission by the IIHF congress was granted.
One essential condition for the opening game at the Schalke stadium was the fact that the roof of the Veltins-Arena can close. Since the IIHF World Championships are only staged in indoor venues, this was one key requirement to have the game in the big venue.
The 2010 IIHF World Championship takes places between May 7-23, 2010 in the Lanxess Arena in Cologne and the SAP Arena in Mannheim. The German Organizing Committee expects 500,000 spectators at the 56 games. Approximately 1,000 accredited journalists as well as around 190 TV stations will broadcast from Germany into more than 100 countries. Some 800 million viewers worldwide will follow the 2010 IIHF World Championship on TV.