This is an artists impression of what the ADO Den Haag football stadium will look like when converted into a hockey stadium for the World Cup 2014.
This stadium plus the small stadium on the Hockey Park site will have the capacity to house an international audience of 20,000 people.
On the 24th January, the Dutch hockey association [KNHB] held the first press conference to launch the event taking place on 31 May to 15 June 2014. This was timed obviously to coincide with the start of the ticket sales for season passes and [intentionally or unintentionally] to coincide with the birthday of Johan Wakkie the Director of the KNHB.
So far over 100 season tickets have been sold in the 4 days since the launch, so the event is off to a great commercial start with over 400 days to go before the start of the event. The tournament schedule will not be known until the end of 2013, so those that sign-up now for season tickets are really the die hard hockey fans/clubs and probably from nations that stand a very good chance of making it through the qualifying tournament.
I had the honour of meeting Johan and the organizing team from the KNHB led by Lex Donia when I interviewed to project manage the communications for the event - a dream project! That is a seriously professional sports federation with big plans and strong vision to pull off a fantastic tournament that will top even the last time Holland hosted the World Cup Hockey back in 1998 in Utrecht.
The event promises to be as much of a multi-media frenzy as the the Olympics 2012 London, with broadcasting and streaming of matches reaching 100 million viewers in 120 countries and the use of second screen Hockey Tracker to view in depth statistics and engage with commentators. Hockey fans will also be able to watch replays from new camera angles on demand, to add to the excitement at key moments of the game.
During the press conference Johan talked a lot about the link with social and cultural goals, international knowledge sharing and development of the sport of hockey. The choice of name [Let's Celebrate hockey] and logo seems to work well with these goals in mind. Let's also not forget that hockey has a lot to gain from maintaining its clean image, in light of football's deteriorating social image. Equally the Dutch hockey teams [male & female] always have a medal to celebrate, unlike the Dutch football team who always come away empty handed.
I think however the artist that created this stadium impression [see above] has forgotten to paint in the sea of orange that is going to wash over the stands during the tournament. I hope that the international visitors are able to counter balance the local invasion and make it the international event it has promised to be in terms of audience as well as participation.
I am in!!!. But who to support??? I will bring my Dutch orange t-shirt AND my England coloured outfit so I can switch between matches and support my favourite team. Hmmm but what happens when England meets the Netherlands!!! I guess body painting would work - half and half that's fair.
I am going to follow what is going on in the lead up to the event at @celebratehockey on Twitter, or @wkhockey2014 [not wchockey2014 in English] or via the site www.celebratehockey.com.