Carolina to host 2011 NHL All-Star game
By JOEDY McCREARY
RALEIGH (AP) The NHL awarded
the 2011 All-Star game to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, coming
through on a pledge commissioner Gary Bettman once made to the
“You have all been asking me for
years when the All-Star game was coming to Raleigh,” Bettman told a
crowd of about 1,000 Hurricanes fans who packed the RBC Center’s lawn.
“I did make a promise a number of years ago. So, today, I will fulfill
Next year’s game originally was to be
played in Phoenix, but when the Coyotes filed for bankruptcy, the
league re-opened its options. Bettman estimated that 14 teams applied
either to host All-Star games from 2011-13 or upcoming NHL drafts.
Telling the other franchises that
“your time will come,” Bettman said awarding the game to Carolina “is a
testimony to the strength of this franchise.”
Bettman credited the metropolitan
Raleigh area for making the improvements to the infrastructure and
taking care of several other questions the league had. He cited a
renovated airport terminal, a new 500,000-square-foot convention center
that opened in September 2008, and the addition of nearly 800 four- and
five-star hotel rooms in the past three years.
The commissioner also downplayed
concerns about the relatively quick turnaround time between the
announcement and the game. The area won’t have the luxury of a few
years of lead time to prepare for the game, which is set for Jan. 30,
Staging it in Raleigh “was never far
from our radar screen, and we didn’t have to, if you will, tax
ourselves with an All-Star game this past February, for obvious
reasons,” said Bettman, alluding to the Vancouver Olympics. “We’re
ready to go. … It was just a question of lining it up and saying,
‘Now’s the time.’ We think the time was right, the bid was right, the
promise needed to be fulfilled.”
In their 11 seasons since moving from Hartford, the Hurricanes have been no strangers to some of the league’s marquee events.
They played host to the 2004 NHL
draft, won the Stanley Cup in 2006, reached the Cup final in 2002 and
last year made their third appearance in the Eastern Conference final.
The rabid “Caniac” fan base has become famous for staging college
football-style tailgate parties before games, then making the arena one
of the loudest in the NHL.
“You’re known for doing your tailgating, and I’m pleased to give you an excuse to do some more,” Bettman said.
Scott Dupree, vice president for
sports marketing for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors
Bureau, estimated that the game will have an economic impact of $10
million to $20 million for the area. Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos
Jr. expects it to provide a jolt to the franchise’s season-ticket
Carolina plays Montreal on Thursday
night in its home finale. Through 40 home games, the Hurricanes are
averaging 15,154 fans – on pace for their worst regular-season average
since the lockout – during a disappointing, injury-riddled season in
which the Hurricanes spent a few weeks as the NHL’s worst team and have
been eliminated from the playoff race.
“There has never been a time when we
didn’t need an All-Star game, and I think almost every other sports
team owner would tell you the same thing,” he said. “It’s very
important to us to build our season-ticket base, and this will help us
do it. But the franchise was doing very well without the All-Star
Count three-time All-Star Eric Staal
among those hoping to skate along with Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and
the rest of the league’s best players in a familiar environment.
“I want to make sure I’m having a
great start next season so I can be a part of it and get a loud ovation
in our building,” Staal said.
Updated April 8, 2010