Just before noon today, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman made it official: the city of Columbus and the Blue Jackets have been selected to host the 2013 NHL All-Star Celebration at Nationwide Arena. The All-Star Celebration is scheduled to take place Jan. 26-27, 2013.
The final approval for next year’s event came after a meeting of the NHL Board of Governors gathered in Ottawa, Ont. for the current All-Star weekend. The Blue Jackets were represented in Ottawa by several executives lead by club president Mike Priest, general manager Scott Howson as well as Linda Logan of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.
After hosting the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets earned high praise from the NHL and garnered national attention for putting on a first-class event. On the first night of the draft, the organization welcomed a sold-out, standing-room only crowd to witness the first draft hosted by the city.
In conjunction with the GCSC, the Blue Jackets submitted their bid to the NHL and the formal announcement came this morning. Those involved in Columbus’ bid includes the Blue Jackets, City of Columbus, Experience Columbus and Nationwide Realty Investments – and Bettman said the announcement is something that had been in the works in recent months.
“It’s something we had been working on for a while,” Bettman said. “The Blue Jackets have been expressing an interest, and we knew this was something both the city and club wanted.
2013 NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND
Blue Jackets to host 2013 All-Star GameColumbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus have been selected to host the 2013 National Hockey League All-Star Celebration, the club and League announced January 28. READ MORE ›
“I’ve been to Columbus numerous times. (At the 2007 Entry Draft) I had the opportunity to stay in a hotel, go to a restaurant and spend time in the Arena District, which didn’t exist before any of this was imaginable. That said to me this is fun, it works well, people can come here and feel comfortable and feel like they’re going to have a good time. (Our thought was) to go have a big party at a place that can host it well. It gave me a taste of what you can do in Columbus.”
For the third consecutive year, the NHL selected a first-time host city for the All-Star weekend. Columbus follows Raleigh, N.C. (2011) and Ottawa (2012) as rookie hosts for the event, which will be the 60th annual in the history of the league.
NHL Network analyst and former NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes had high praise for the decision after the Blue Jackets were awarded next year’s festivities.
“Columbus has a terrific facility, really state-of-the-art,” Weekes said. “For my mind, it’s the blueprint of the new facilities you have in the National Hockey League. It’s a great, all-in-one practice facility within the rink itself. I think that’s a great decision; I like the fact that the fans are going to get rewarded. They’ve been patient. It’s a good hockey city, they love the game there.”
Columbus and the Blue Jackets organization will welcome the best hockey players in the world for an exciting weekend featuring the NHL Skills Competition and the All-Star Game.
“It’s exciting to be granted the opportunity to host this and reward our fans and community for the terrific support received,” Priest said. “We’re very excited about it, and we know the hockey fans in Columbus will embrace this.
“It gives them an opportunity to have a first-hand celebration with the league’s best and brightest stars.”
Priest said the club’s planning for the event will begin immediately, and will involve all parties in bringing this event to Columbus.
“We’ll have a comprehensive approach,” Priest said. “We’ll do a number of things and be digging in deep over the next few weeks and planning a number of those types of events. There’s a few things we want to accomplish before the All-Star Game, and in the weeks to come, we’ll start rolling that out.”
Bettman said the NHL felt now was the right time to bring the All-Star weekend to Ohio’s capital city, and show the rest of the league the terrific host city he sees Columbus to be.
“We like to share our big events with all of our clubs,” Bettman said. “We’re a family of 30, and you want to do the best for all of your members. We’ve had All-Star Games in Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Dallas and L.A.
“We’re going to Columbus because we think it will be great for our celebration -- it’s that simple.”