Blue Jackets Set To Host '13 NHL All-Star Weekend In Columbus
The NHL and the Blue Jackets on Saturday announced the city of Columbus and the team will host the ’13 NHL All-Star Weekend Jan. 26-27 next year (NHL). Blue Jackets President Mike Priest said, “This is a great opportunity to celebrate hockey in Columbus and to showcase Columbus to the hockey community once again.” In Columbus, Aaron Portzline noted the Blue Jackets have “made bids to play host to the All-Star Game as far back as 2001, their second season in the league.” The team two years ago with “the help of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, put in bids for the 2013, ’14 or ’15 games, but the league made the bids contingent on the Blue Jackets getting its long-sought financial fix in the form of a new lease agreement with Nationwide Arena.” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman “reiterated the two issues were linked, but said there was no quid pro quo.” The Blue Jackets have told the NHL that they “will make a series of upgrades to Nationwide Arena -- including, possibly, a new or upgraded scoreboard -- but Priest was not willing to discuss” those on Saturday. The team hosted the ’07 NHL Draft and the arena's lower bowl and “most of the upper bowl were packed for the first round of the draft, which is unusual when the event is in a so-called nontraditional hockey market.” Portzline noted the NHL two weeks ago “notified the Blue Jackets that they could land the 2013 game if they still could fulfill the bid proposals they submitted two years earlier” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/29).
STILL HONEYMOONING: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock noted the city hosted last year’s All-Star Game and the “alacrity with which Raleigh hosted one of the sport's biggest events and the way fans here embraced it changed its reputation as a hockey market forever.” Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau VP/Sports Marketing co-Chair Scott Dupree said, "For some outsiders, maybe it was a bit of a surprise or unexpected that a quote-unquote 'nontraditional hockey market' like Raleigh could step up and host an event of that size and scope as successfully as we did." Over the decade it took for Bettman “to fulfill his original promise to bring the game here, it was easy to believe it would never happen.” Now, a year later, it is “almost hard to believe it went so well” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 1/28). Jets co-Owner Mark Chipman said that it is “far too early in the game” for the team to consider hosting an All-Star Weekend. Just landing a franchise back after the original Jets left for Phoenix in ‘96 was “such a momentous occasion for the ownership group that ‘it still hasn’t completely sunk in.’” Still, the GLOBE & MAIL’s Roy MacGregor wrote at “some point, the Jets will be chasing to put on the All-Star Game, if not the Heritage Classic or a future draft.” Chipman: “I have no doubt our community would support any one of these events” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/29).
PITCHING PROPOSALS: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote a “better idea” for the All-Star Game would be to “award it to the city that wins the Stanley Cup.” On All-Star Weekend the following season, bring in the game’s “best for a skills competition and fanfest.” As for the game, stage it “outdoors, pitting the previous season’s Stanley Cup finalists against each other in a regular-season game.” A Bruins-Canucks matchup on Jan. 7 “would have played well in front of 35,000 at Fenway Park and a national TV audience” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29).