Gelsenkirchen, Germany - The 2010 ice hockey world championships are to face off in front of a world record attendance of 75,976 in Germany, organizers announced on Monday.
Local organizers said at a news conference that the tournament opener between hosts Germany and a yet to be drawn opponent on May 7, 2010, could draw this maximum crowd in Gelsenkirchen's stadium which normally hosts Schalke 04 football matches.
The current record is 74,554 fans who attended a college match between Michigan and Michigan State on October 6, 2001, in the American Football stadium of East Lansing, Michigan.
German organizers are confident that the record will fall.
"We had more than 80,000 ticket requests for the opening match of the 2001 worlds in Cologne," said organizing committee head Uwe Harnos.
Schalke president Josef Schnusenberg said: "If you tell our fans that they can be part of a world record then the record will fall."
The 2010 worlds run May 7-23 with all other games played in Cologne and Mannheim. Organizers expect more than half a million fans and hope to crack the world championship record attendance of 552,000 from the 2004 edition in the Czech Republic.
Germany coach Uwe Krupp said that the game in Gelsenkirchen would be a milestone for every player and compared it to the NHL record attendance of 71,217 which attended a Pittsburgh Penguins vs Buffalo Sabres match 11 months ago.
"I talked to my friends in the US. Every player remembers this milestone. You experience that only one in your career, it will be an unforgettable experience for our boys," said Krupp. (dpa)