Usually home of the basketball club of the same name, the Zalgiris Arena in Kaunas will be converted into a state-of-the-art ice hockey facility for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B. Photo: Rymantas Penkauskas
Lithuania’s second city offers big venue
Lithuania will host the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B and selected nothing less than the biggest arena of the Baltic countries.
The 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B will be hosted in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas. After two successful tournaments in Vilnius during the last eight years, the event will go to the largest indoor arena of the Baltic countries, the Zalgiris Arena with a capacity of 13,762 fans for ice hockey.
Lithuania was awarded the tournament by the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress in Cologne, Germany, in May and the game schedule was formally approved by the 2017 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in Marbella, Spain, in September.
Originally already the 2014 was supposed to be played in Kaunas but eventually the venue was switched to the capital of Vilnius. This time Kaunas, a city of almost 300,000 inhabitants, will get its first major ice hockey tournament.
The Zalgiris Arena, sometimes also called Zalgirio Arena in Lithuanian grammar, hasn’t been used for ice hockey yet but hosted many international games in basketball, the country’s national sport, and will be ready for the proposed tournament dates 22-28 April 2018.
The arena located on an island of the Nemunas River is named after the country’s famous basketball club team BC Zalgiris Kaunas, which is the home team at the arena. Many stars from Elton John to Mariah Carey have performed concerts at the venue since its opening in 2011.
Ukraine, Japan, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia and Romania will battle for promotion to the Division I Group A at the round-robin tournament.