The Czech Republic will be hosts for the 2004 IIHF World Hockey Championship. The “Worlds” then is coming back to Prague after a 12-year break and games will also be played in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, where one of the basic groups will be located. This will all take place after the hard work of building a new arena in Prague is complete, and following an exchange of terms of organization of the World Championship with Finland.
The International Ice Hockey Federation decided at its meeting, held in St. Petersburg in May 2000, to award the World Hockey Championship for 2003 to Prague but only under the condition that the tournament would be played in at least one new arena comparable with those found in, say, Helsinki, or St. Petersburg, where previous World Championships had taken place or like the arenas in Hannover, Cologne, or Nürnberg where the next World Championship would be held.
The Czech Ice Hockey Federation began negotiations for the building of the new arena with several groups but no progress occurred and problems arose regarding the proposed land in the Prague 10 district of Hagibor. Because of these unforeseen complications, Karel Gut, the President of the Czech Ice Hockey Association asked the Finnish federation for an exchange of World Championship years.
Finland graciously agreed and the Czech Republic gained an additional very important year. During this year an investor, the lottery company SAZKA, came on board. Sazka found suitable land and began building the new arena. If everything goes according to plan the SAZKA ARENA will be finished on 22 February 2004 and its doors will soon open, climaxing with the 2004 IIHF World Championship.
Ostrava, and its ARENA VÍTKOVICE is the second site of the 2004 Championship. Pardubice and České Budějovice with their newly reconstructed arenas were also taken into consideration as was Pilsen with its nearly 10 000 seats and because of its proximity to the German border. But in the end, Prague and Ostrava were chosen to be the co-host cities.
The date of the IIHF World Hockey Championship is set for 24 April to 9 May 2004.