The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that it is among several North American NHL teams bidding to host either the 2012 or 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend. The Maple Leafs last hosted the NHL All-Star Weekend at Air Canada Centre in 2000.
“We’ve developed a very strong proposal that reflects making this NHL weekend event into the ultimate sports experience, and we’re confident that hockey fans and Torontonians share our desire to bring the NHL All-Star Weekend back to Toronto,” said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues and entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “An important aspect of our bid is creating a legacy that continues to support the growth of hockey in our city for generations to come.”
The Maple Leafs have proposed a significant rink refurbishment legacy project as part of their bid that would complement their existing MLSE Team Up Foundation Hockey Rink Legacy Program which has resulted in 13 city-owned rinks receiving major upgrades at a cost of close to $1.2 million to date.
Hunter added, “Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and its sports teams are committed to being city builders and the positive economic impact that these games could potentially garner would be a tremendous benefit to the City of Toronto and tourism.”
Since Air Canada Centre last hosted the NHL All-Star Weekend, Canada’s premier sports and entertainment arena was named one of the most influential global venues of the last decade by Stadia Magazine, won more than 25 industry awards and undergone a dramatic interior and exterior revitalization and renovation with the addition of several new amenities. At the start of the NHL season, Air Canada Centre unveiled its two-year refurbishment including a new major entrance (located off of Bremner Boulevard), new retail areas and additional concession stands, all located in the new multi-level spacious Atrium. The Atrium is also the new home to an interactive High-Definition broadcast studio.
A pivotal aspect of the Maple Leafs All-Star bid is Maple Leaf Square, MLSE’s new sports and entertainment development adjacent to Air Canada Centre. Opening in Spring 2010, Maple Leaf Square would serve as a major hosting destination for many events associated with the All-Star Weekend. Maple Leaf Square’s Public Square, its restaurant Real Sports Bar & Grill, Real Sports Apparel Retail Store and a new hotel, Le Germain Maple Leaf Square
would be a gathering place for hockey fans.
It was previously estimated that the economic benefit of an NHL or NBA All-Star Game in Toronto could be as high as a $100 million.
The NHL is expected to announce the host cities of the 2012 and 2013 NHL All-Star Games sometime this spring. Maple Leafs fans can visit www.mapleleafs.com to see a copy of the team’s NHL All-Star bid book
and have their say about the hockey’s weekend festivities returning to Toronto.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have also applied to host the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Air Canada Centre, as well as expressed a desire to host the 2012 NHL Winter Classic at BMO Field, home of MLSE’s soccer team Toronto FC.