Updated: Jun 19
Hockey fans worldwide have been starved for a best-on-best tournament for years.
For years, hockey fans worldwide have been starved for an actual best on best all-ages tournament. The last time we saw such a thing was the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. NHL players were scheduled to play in the 2022 Winter Olympics, but COVID-19 ended those hopes. The possibility of a 2024 World Cup of Hockey fills the ensuing void.
Thankfully, the games will be played during the All-Star break like the Olympics, which is a nice change from the 2016 tournament being held in September.
We are, however, left with one burning question. Which city will host? In 2016, the tournament was held in Toronto. Because of that, let's assume it'll be an American town in 2024 for variety's sake. Here are some top candidates:
Las Vegas, Nevada
The T-Mobile Arena began operations just a handful of years ago when the hockey world hadn't seen an expansion team in decades. The Vegas Golden Knights have had unbelievable fan support for a team playing in a desert next to Arizona. The Las Vegas metropolitan area is not tiny either, at about 2.3 million.
Besides the new arena, the one big thing that Vegas can argue is tourism. The World Cup of Hockey could be a significant event around town. During February the average high is 19°C (66°F). Perhaps some Canadian and Scandinavian tourists would venture to Vegas for their 2024 winter vacation.
Detroit continues to shrink, but it is still one of the classic hockey towns. The Little Caesars Arena opened in 2017 and amused everyone with its disco dance floor ceiling. But was it really worth the enormous 860 million dollar price tag?
The Red Wings may be one of the safest bets as hosts simply because of the distance to the Canadian border. You can bet every single Canada game would be sold out thanks to southern Ontario. One can only wonder what tourists from Finland and Sweden would think of Detroit in February.
Perhaps a surprise entrant, but would anybody really be surprised if Houston has an NHL team by February 2024? Such a team would play in the Toyota Center, one of those early 2000s concrete buildings with a renovated scoreboard. Houston isn't the closest city to Canada, but its average high in February is 18°C (64°F), so it would make for a decent winter getaway. Houston is only one hour away from the Gulf of Mexico beaches.
Why is Houston such a certainty for an NHL team and hence a good option for the World Cup? Demographics. The Houston metropolitan area has over 7 million people. Los Angeles would be a similar option, but the tournament could be a useful way to warm up, or cool down, Houston to ice hockey.
New York City, New York
The brand new UBS Arena in Elmont, New York, will be home to the New York Islanders for decades. It makes for a great cheaper alternative to Madison Square Garden. New York is about 7 hours away from the Canadian border, so team Canada fans won't be driving home after each game. But New York City is much closer to the Canadian border than Houston.
February in New York is fairly cold, with an average high of 5°C (41°F) so it is not a tourist haven. But it is a metropolitan area of about 20 million people, so average attendance would most likely be higher than in smaller cities such as Detroit and Las Vegas.
Seattle objectively seems like the most likely and for many good reasons. The newly granted NHL market is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, with over 4 million people in its metropolitan area. The Kraken play in a reconstructed arena that shows a great blend of old and new.
The most obvious selling point for Seattle to host the 2024 World Cup is its proximity to Vancouver. Just two and a half hours in the car gets you to Canada's third-largest metropolitan area. It's a safe bet that all Canada and USA games would sell out quickly.