Bison takes up a stick

What is needed for the World Ice Hockey Championship? A well-known expert answers, almost without thinking, “Places for hockey players to live and play! All else will follow...”
By Piotr Ryabukhin

Where will the stars live?
Accommodation has already been chosen in Minsk. Not so long ago, one of the city’s problems was its lack of comfortable hotels. The Planeta, Yubileinaya, Belarus and Minsk left something to be desired. Now, a Yandex search provides a list of 135 ‘hotels in Minsk’. Of course, not all are located in the centre of the capital, and not all deserve the status of ‘comfortable’, but they help to solve the problem of accommodation significantly. Visitors can choose the star rating which suits their budget and taste.

Hockey stars are known for being particular about their accommodation — particularly the more famous ones. However, Minsk’s hotels feel certain that they can rise to the occasion, catering for the star hockey players of the leading teams worldwide. There are no problems with hotels of the highest category! The World Championship Directorate already has a list of places ready to host the 16 teams in the World Championship 2014. The list is no secret so fans will easily be able to find out where their favourite team is staying. There are not so many top hotels in Minsk...

The formula for the World Cup 2014 has not yet been approved: whether it retains the same ‘2 to 8’ or will be held in ‘4 to 4’ format will be decided at the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Congress, in May 2013, during the World Championship. We do know that there will be 16 teams competing from 9th to 25th May, 2014.

Where to play?
Our championship will gather the most fans, compared to previous events. Since the World Championship in 2006 in Riga (the best for our team to date, gaining 6th place) all following championships have been held in two cities or, even, countries. This time, all 64 games are to be played in the same city, across two arenas located not too far apart — only about 15km on the ring road.

The main ice rink is Minsk Arena, which already boasts a record attendance of 17,100 people, despite having only 15,000 official seats (who knows where the other 2,100 people were). The record occurred for the gala concert performance of the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, on March 4th, 2012.

There will be considerably fewer places for fans at the Ice Hockey Championship: no more than 15,000, with 300 seats set aside for the media and another 300 for 50 commentary positions. Meanwhile, some seats will be reserved for VIPs within the International Ice Hockey Federation, members of the IIHF Congress, commercial sponsors and so on. Many VIP guests will also bring their spouses.

The rules of the World Championship also state that space must be set aside within the stadium seating to display two Skoda cars: Skoda being the main sponsor of the championship. There will also be seating for 100 photographers and two cameras taking up 20 seats each near the ice. About 3,500 seats will be already spoken for at both arenas...
Of course, it’s a pity to withdraw tickets from sale, as the Championship needs to cover its costs through ticket sales, but regulations must be followed.

We know everything about Minsk-Arena, but Chizhovka-Arena won’t be ready for opening until late summer 2013. It’s interesting to know what it will look like.

How does Stockholm prepare?
It’s always a good idea to look at how others have organised events, so a Belarusian delegation visited the capital of Sweden to see how the Swedish Organising Committee is hosting the World Championship (for the second year in a row). Even though there are only three months before the Championship begins, there are no posters or billboards advertising the event anywhere. Not even the arena has publicity but the Swedish committee is absolutely calm, greeting us with a smile and friendliness. They’re ready to help anyone, offering plans, diagrams, drawings, photographs, excursions and consultations. They give complete answers to all questions and detailed advice.

Attempts to purchase souvenirs of the World Championship in 2013 prove unsuccessful in Stockholm. Fans faced the same problem in Finland last year. The matter is out of the hands of the country-organiser; an agreement with a commercial partner of the IIHF — Infront Company — only allows organisers to produce and sell souvenirs with the championship logo for a certain period (but not items bearing the mascot). Three months before the start of the World Championship, the hosts must stop production of logoed goods.

Infront chooses the official supplier of souvenirs bearing the mascot, giving exclusive rights to production, distribution, promotion, sale and advertising. The Organising Committee charges a fee for this right of course. We hope that all the souvenirs will arrive in Minsk in good time and in sufficient quantity.

Logo and mascot
Belarus is hosting the World Ice Hockey Championship in 2014, having been granted the honour in May 2009. However, Belarus’ Ice Hockey Federation Association announced a competition for the best logo ‘Minsk-2014’ early in 2008. Over 200 entries were received, with Victoria Adamovich’s simple design claiming victory; it’s easily recognisable, seen on souvenirs and printed materials, on public transport, and on posters and billboards. Enterprises can gain permission to use the logo on their products after submitting an application to the Championship’s Directorate (also approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation). At the Cycling World Championship, several enterprises sold products with distorted versions of the symbol for the Ice Hockey Championship, so the matter is being tackled very seriously.

As for the World Championship mascot, 40 entries were received but Minsk designer Vitaly Ortyukh’s bison came out on top. Only the Directorate has the right to use the mascot for advertising the World Championship — and only on printed materials rather than on consumer goods or souvenirs. The mascot belongs to the IIHF.

In fact, the bison mascot still needs a name. The Directorate launched a Name the Mascot! contest (with a back-story) on March 1st.

Firm style
A whole advertising agency is working on the style of the World Championship, including a graphic concept, communication ideas and a slogan: in three phases. The first has already been completed, with graphics chosen for billboards, banners, letterheads, envelopes and places selling World Championship souvenirs. In fact, a few billboards and banners are already placed along busy roads.

The second phase is almost complete, covering designs for urban transport and new billboards and banners. There are also sketches of tickets and advertising bills.

The third phase (by June 1st, 2013) covers posters for matches, passes for cars, postcards, flyers, banners and so on.
The whole design concept is that the event is a multifaceted holiday. The designs use a photograph of bright festive columns and light blue ice crystals. The word ‘holiday’ features everywhere and the multifaceted nature of the event is shown through a kaleidoscope of emotions, cultures, languages and impressions! The Championships slogan is ‘Together, we make a holiday!’

Of course, we hope that our team will play well, giving us reason to celebrate!
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