After 2013, the Hungarian men’s national ice hockey team will be playing at home once again, at the Group A tournament of the 2018 World Championship of the International Ice Hockey Federation, held between 22 and 28 April at the 9,000-seat Budapest Sportaréna. With the home advantage in their favor, fans of the team are hoping to see their favorite players among the qualified teams, just like they did in 2008 and 2015.
The Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation won with its bid at the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress in May.The other bid for Warsaw was withdrawn by Poland in favour for Budapest since Poland hosted head-to-head events in 2015 and 2016 and plans to move forward with its application for another year. Budapest Sportaréna has previously hosted several other hockey events at that level including the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I events in 2011 and 2013 and Olympic Pre-Qualification groups for Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.
Team Hungary will play Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Slovenia and Great Britain for promotion to the top division: the top-two teams will qualify for the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, to be held in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia. Behind the bench of the Hungarian men’s national team will be Finnish coach Jarmo Tolvanen, who was chosen to be the head coach of the U20 team last year. Between 1972 and 1980 Tolvanen had spent several seasons in the second Finnish league for HPK Hameenlinna and one in the top Swedish league for Timra. After retiring in his late twenties he went on to coach in top leagues in Europe, such as the Finnish Liiga, the Swedish Hockey League, the Swiss National League, the German DEL, in Denmark, France, Norway, Poland, and the Fehervar AV19 during the 2009-2010 season.
The International Ice Hockey Federation agreed with the Hungarian intention to make the event bigger and more spectacular than in previous years. That is why the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation is preparing with a fan village, lots of activities, show elements and, of course, a high-level catering service for the whole duration of the championship.
Situated in front of the Budapest Sprotaréna, the “Dekk” will be open from 10 AM till midnight, with events held every day until 10 PM, awaiting guests with free entry to the tents of CCM, Skoda, Hall of Fame and the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation, and to an exciting championship match, organized by the Hungarian Floorball Association.
The fan village (open from 10 AM till 1 AM) will take place right in front of the nearby building of the Körcsarnok. It will entice the cheering supporters with four huge screens, a kitchen row serving the dishes of six different cuisines, and the refreshing amber brew of Krusovice. After every match, the participating teams will drop by the fan village for an audience meet-and-greet, allowing fans to shake hands with their favourite players. During the breaks between the matches, the crowds can enjoy cultural programs and shows, organized by the countries of the participating teams. To make the festival experience complete, live DJs will take the stage of the fan village every night, helping you celebrate your team’s victory or getting over its loss.
The organizers are also preparing a thematic exhibition inside the building of the Agora (found right next to the Budapest Sportaréna), showcasing the history of ice hockey in Hungary, the 2008 Sapporo Miracle, and the history of Budapest world championships, while a number of memorabilia from the Hockey Hall of Fame will also be put on display in the Hockey Museum. Entry is free!