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U18 hockey tournament considers UP Center

It might not take very long for the Urban Plains Center to strut its stuff for an international audience. Fargo and its new hockey complex are being considered to host the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship. "This wou...

It might not take very long for the Urban Plains Center to strut its stuff for an international audience.

Fargo and its new hockey complex are being considered to host the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship.

"This would be one of the first major events in the building, and there isn't a bigger tournament for USA Hockey," said Lance Johnson, general manger of the Urban Plains Center. "This would be a great event for us."

The Urban Plains Center and Metro Sports Foundation submitted the bid for the tournament on Oct. 1. USA Hockey will visit Fargo in late December.

The tourney has teams from all over the world and would run from April 7-21 in 2009.

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"With the new center, we're looking for events to draw people, and this could open the door to a lot of other events," said Brian Schulz, director of sports sales and marketing for the Fargo-Moorhead Athletic Commission.

Johnson said the group from USA Hockey would likely be in Fargo Dec. 20 or 21 for its one-day visit.

The Urban Plains Center is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2008. Johnson said USA Hockey is looking for a seating capacity between 4,000 and 6,000, which the UPC will fit perfectly.

But the committee is also going to be checking out other things.

"They want to know how well we'd be able to handle it, and our metro area as a whole," Johnson said. "Obviously, they'll want to see our facility, and they'll also be looking at the community as a whole - like what else can players, friends and families do here?"

In 2005, the IIHF U20 world championship was played in Grand Forks, N.D., and Thief River Falls, Minn.

"It would be amazing for North Dakota to host two major world events like this in the last four years," said Johnson, who also worked with Ralph Engelstad Arena for the U20 tournament in 2005.

Readers can reach Forum sports writer Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

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Collins' prep sports blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

U18 hockey tournament considers UP Center Kerry Collins 20071129

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