In an official announcement, USA Hockey has named a group of American cities as official finalists in bids to host the 2018 IIHF U20 World Junior Championships. The finalists are Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Tampa. Tampa's bid made the cut.
The rumors and speculation leading through the process keyed in on five locations - the aforementioned Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay as well as Detroit, Michigan and Glendale/Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona retracted its bid with thanks to the drama between the city o Glendale and the Arizona Coyotes. Detroit not making the cut, with their proximity to southern Ontario and a new arena under construction, is rather surprising. One aspect or another of the bid (or perhaps the relative newness of Joe Louis Arena's replacement) kept the city from making the cut.
The new players in the bidding process are St. Louis and Chicago, two intimidating Midwest markets with both longevity in the game and name recognition internationally. They continue the usual traditional-market aspect of where the tournament is played.
The release by USA Hockey (linked to here from the Lightning team website) states that the field will further be reduced in the next 60 days with visitations to the absolute finalists and then the ultimate choice by the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see how this process plays out, and here's hoping the Tampa Bay bid remains in the running until the very end.