The official spectator count of 77,803 at the Veltins-Arena for the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championships in Gelsenkirchen sets a new world record for attendance at an ice hockey match.
The total also surpassed what had been projected by tournament officials and reported in the German press by a good 1,650 or so. It should be remembered that the sport of ice hockey is not widely popular in Germany. Fussball (soccer) is far and away the king of sport in the European country.
The eishockey fans start to fill up the Veltins-Arena, which is normally the home of German Bundesliga football club Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen, prior to the match featuring the host nation and the silver medalists from this past winter’s Olympic Games. (DPA photo)
The gate at Gelsenkirchen wipes away a mark that had stood for over half a century (53 years) in international hockey.
The old record for attendance at an IIHF World Championships match dates back to 1957 for the match between Sweden and the Soviet Union at the multi-purpose Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium (since re-named Luzhniki) in Moscow.
The crowd that gathered at FC Schalke’s stadium also bested the total that saw a college hockey game billed as “The Cold War” in the United States almost a decade ago.
October 6, 2001 : 74,554 fans watch Michigan State University, ranked # 1 in the nation, and the University of Michigan, who enter the game at # 4, skate to a 3-3 draw at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.
Oddly enough, the United States team that met Germany at Gelsenkirchen fielded two players who participated for the University of Michigan in the previous record-setting contest.
The Calgary Flames pair of DAVID MOSS and ERIC NYSTROM were freshmen forwards for the Wolverines that 2001-02 hockey season.
Michigan and Michigan State are scheduled to meet again this December in an outdoor game, this time at Michigan Stadium. That game is expected to draw in the neighborhood of 108,000 to “The Big House”. Thus, Gelsenkirchen’s record will be short-lived.
A record, nonetheless. Which, as both luck and skill would have it, coincided with a major German victory, as well. Both events are wildly celebrated here by the operators of this blog to be certain.