BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The World Junior Hockey Championships are returning to Buffalo in 2018. And this time, they'll include an outdoor game to be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that USA Hockey officials will make the formal announcement during a news conference on Friday. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been made public.
One of the people added that one of the tournament games will be played outdoors at the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. United States-Canada would likely be the biggest draw, but there's no guarantee those nations will meet in the tournament because its schedule is based on world rankings. The NHL's Buffalo Sabres are also submitting a bid to the NHL to also host the 2018 Winter Classic, the person said, to coincide with the World Junior tournament outdoor game.
The Bills and Sabres are both owned by Terry and Kim Pegula.
Ralph Wilson Stadium hosted the NHL's first Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2008.
Buffalo was selected to host the World Juniors over four other finalists, beating out Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa, Florida.
It will mark the second time the tournament has been held in Buffalo. The 2011 World Juniors were held in Buffalo and drew more than 330,000 fans during the 11-day event. It was the second-best attended junior tournament at that time.
Based on past events, the tournament is expected to open on Dec. 26, 2017, and run through the first week of 2018.
Buffalo was regarded as the front-runner to host the tournament based on the city's past success and its proximity to southern Ontario's large population base. Toronto, Canada's financial capital and largest city, is but a two-hour drive from Buffalo.
Games involving Canada were the most attended during the 2011 tournament.
Buffalo boosted its bid even further this time with the addition of the newly opened HarborCenter hockey and entertainment complex that adjoins the Sabres downtown arena. The facility features two rinks, including a 3,000-seat venue that has the capability of hosting some tournament games.
The higher-profile games, including the playoffs and championship, will be held at the Sabres home rink, the First Niagara Center.
In 2011, secondary games were held at Niagara University, about a half-hour drive north of Buffalo.