COLUMBUS – The city of Columbus is ready to roll out the red carpet for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
The League announced Saturday that the midseason showcase will be held Jan. 24-25, 2015, in Nationwide Arena. The weekend will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in addition to the All-Star Game.
"It's an opportunity to show off the city to the world," Mayor Michael B. Coleman said. "The best hockey players in the world will be in the city of Columbus. We'll roll out the red carpet. We'll have a great time and people will know what the great city of Columbus is all about."
Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Columbus to make the announcement during the first period of the Blue Jackets' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Columbus was scheduled to hold the 2013 All-Star Game, but that game was not held due to the abbreviated schedule. There will be no All-Star Game this season because of the NHL's participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"The only issues that we had to deal with were logistical," Bettman said. "Was the convention center going to be available on the dates we needed? Was the hotel space we needed going to be available?"
He said there was no bidding process by other cities for the 2015 event
"We wanted to come back as quickly as possible," Bettman said. "We knew we couldn't do it this year because of the Olympics, so 2015 was the first available date."
The Blue Jackets, Coleman and other community and business leaders lobbied hard after the 2013 game was cancelled to get the All-Star Game in Columbus sooner rather than later, something Bettman had said repeatedly was a priority.
"The Commissioner made a promise and that promise has been kept," Coleman said.
John Davidson, president of hockey operations for the Blue Jackets, said the All-Star Game is a just reward for the franchise's owners.
"I'm so happy for the McConnell family," he said. "They knew they could pull it off. They wanted it."
Bettman said the recent change in the All-Star Game that allows for captains to select the players for each team will likely continue.
"We haven't formulized it yet but my anticipation is we'll use the same format because it has been so well received," he said.
In anticipation of hosting the 2013 All-Star Game, the Franklin County (Ohio) Convention Facilities Authority spent $6.4 million on capital improvements to Nationwide Arena, including $5.86 million for a new center ice scoreboard. Other changes included new seats, dasher boards and glass around the rink and an upgrade to the visitors dressing room.
Columbus will be the third consecutive first-time host city following Raleigh, N.C. (2011) and Ottawa (2012). Columbus had hosted the 2007 NHL Draft.
"We had such a good time at the draft we knew we wanted to come back and do it again," Bettman said.
Details on the 2015 NHL All-Star Celebration, including ticket information, special events and television broadcasting information will be released at a later date.
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