Nothing illustrates how hockey has grown in the United States more than today’s announcement from USA Hockey that the World Junior Championship is returning to Buffalo in 2017-18 and the Canada vs. USA game will be played outdoors at the Buffalo Bills’ Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Wilson Stadium holds close to 72,000 people and a sellout is anticipated.
Unquestionably, the expectation of devout Canadian fans streaming across the border to watch the event played a pivotal role in the decision to bring the WJC to Buffalo.
We still need the Canadians to help us fill up the arenas. But the ambitiousness of the outdoor game, and in particular the considerable interest American cities had in hosting the WJC, speaks to how significantly the sport’s visibility has expanded in the U.S. over the past 30 years.
It wasn’t all that long ago that American sponsors didn’t want anything to do with hockey. Now there is always a line forming when it comes to major hockey events.
While it may seem as if Buffalo, because of its close proximity to…