Chicago is among five finalists to host the 2018 World Junior Championship, along with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa, USA Hockey announced Tuesday.
The World Junior Championships is a prestigious and popular tournament featuring the top junior players in the world, many of whom make the National Hockey League. The annual championship showcases players under the age of 20 from 10 nations.
The 2018 tournament will run from Dec. 26, 2017-Jan. 5, and Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz recently submitted the bid to have Chicago and the United Center play host in conjunction with the building of a new practice facility near the arena. Chicago will host the NCAA Championships Frozen Four in 2017 at the United Center.
"We had interest of varying levels from more than a dozen entities," said Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director of marketing, communications and events for USA Hockey. "In the end, we’re extremely pleased with the group of finalists. The time and effort each put into the materials that were submitted is impressive and we look forward to continued conversations with each of the finalists."
Bertsch noted USA Hockey will have the host selected by the end of the year. "We’ll likely further narrow the field in the next 60 days and then conduct in-person visits before making a final decision."
Allstate Arena (16,692 capacity) in Rosemont, home of the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves, the Edge Ice Arena (3,000 capacity), former home of the United States Hockey League's Chicago Steel, in Bensenville will be considered options for a secondary arena for the tournament.
The Sears Centre (8,362 capacity), home of the Major Arena Soccer League's Chicago Mustangs, in Hoffman Estates also could be used. It formally served as the home of ECHL's Chicago Express from 2011-12.
Previous host cities in the U.S. have included Buffalo (2011), Grand Forks, N.D./Thief River Falls, Minn. (2005), Boston (1996), Anchorage, Alaska (1989) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (1982).
The 2016 tournament will be held in Helsinki, Finland, while the 2017 event will take place in Toronto and Montreal.