Belfast to host Ice Hockey World Championship in 2017
Belfast is set to host one of the world's biggest ice hockey competition next year.
Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with The SSE Arena, Belfast and the Belfast Giants, won the vote which took place at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Congress in Russia on Friday morning.
They beat Estonia for the right to host in a vote by council members and the six teams in the division.
Northern Ireland's Ice Hockey fans will have the chance to see teams from across the world compete for the championship in April next year.
Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland will now host Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Japan who were relegated from Division 1A and Netherlands who were promoted back from Division 2A at the first time of asking.
Richard Grieveson, IHUK chairman, said: “This is a massive moment for ice hockey in the UK.
“It has been a long time since the UK hosted a men’s World Championship and it is very exciting we will be doing so again. A lot of hard work went into the bid and the work now begins on getting ready for the tournament.
“We are looking forward to working with the Belfast Giants, The SSE Arena and our partners in Belfast on this project."
Belfast City’s Lord Mayor, councillor Arder Carson, said “This is another wonderful coup for my home city and Belfast City Council and all the partners involved should be rightly proud in bringing yet another international event to the city.
"I would like to publicly thank the Belfast Giants and International Ice Hockey Federation for giving us the opportunity to show what we can offer.
"Plus Belfast, in 2017, will be a fantastic year for sport, not only will we have some of the world’s best ice hockey teams here, we will also be the host city for UEFA’s Under-19 Women’s Football Championships and the Women’s Rugby World Cup, so roll on next year.”
Steve Thornton, Head of Hockey operations for the Stena Line Belfast Giants, said: "I am delighted that the city of Belfast has been chosen to host the prestigious 2017 World Championship.
"The successful bid was down to a lot of hard work by Ice Hockey UK, Odyssey Trust, the SSE Arena and Belfast City Council - without them, this would not have been possible.
"I would like to thank everyone who supported the bid and we will be working closely with Ice Hockey UK on packages that will allow us to welcome many fans to Northern Ireland in April 2017."
The tournament is scheduled to run from Sunday 23rd to Saturday 29th April 2017, but the dates are yet to be fully ratified.
Ticket details and prices will be announced in due course.