Boston mayor backs Belfast bid for major ice hockey tournament
Boston mayor Marty Walsh has given his backing to a bid to bring a major ice hockey tournament to Belfast in 2016.
While visiting the Odyssey Arena, Mayor Walsh offered his support to an Odyssey Trust initiative to bring the NCAA Beanpot tournament to the city.
The Beanpot, which features Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern, is one of the biggest tournaments in the ice hockey season.
The event has a huge following in Boston and across the United States.
"In the 62 years since its inception it has become the official battle for Boston's hockey bragging rights and is widely known as the 'social event of the winter season'," said Walsh.
"In light of the recent Sister City twinning between Belfast and Boston, which is underpinned by a longstanding connection between the two cities through ice hockey, I think it would be wonderful to bring the Beanpot to Belfast and am lending my support to the campaign."
Odyssey Trust Chief Executive Robert Fitzpatrick says a 'Belfast Beanpot' would bring a major boost to the city.
"Bringing this tournament to the Odyssey Arena is ice hockey's answer to bringing Notre Dame to Croke Park - the impact would be massive and would bring a major economic boost not only to local sport, but to hospitality, tourism and culture in Northern Ireland.
"Ice hockey has played an important role in fostering strong relationships between Belfast and Boston and bringing this high-profile tournament to Northern Ireland would further cement that relationship and celebrate the links between the two cities."
Mayor Walsh will host a delegation from the Odyssey Trust and Belfast Giants at Boston City Hall in early October this year, where they will meet with the NCAA and representatives from the four Boston Colleges to discuss how the initiative can be taken forward.