North Carolina hockey fans had All-Star fever this weekend, as Raleigh was selected as a replacement city to host the annual NHL All Star game. Phoenix had originally been selected, but due to their ongoing problems with the league and lack of an actual owner, the NHL awarded it to Raleigh. The city didn’t have as much time to prepare, but clearly it wasn’t needed because they produced a first-class event.
This was my second visit to an ASG, having attended festivities in Atlanta a few years ago, and I was so impressed by the energy and how many great events they had, from the Fan Fair to the downtown street festival. Thousands stood in lines for hours (myself included) to catch a glimpse of their favorite players on the red carpet. All in all, the festivities were a huge success, on and off the ice, from the new format to the peripheral activities.
While most focus around the state was on the NHL game in Raleigh, I was able to catch the AHL Superskills Competition (unfortunately, Charlotte was robbed of the ability to see the actual game on local cable. Instead, it was replaced by women’s basketball…). Hershey is one of the most dedicated markets in the AHL, and from all I’ve read, they put on a great event. What I want to see next is for Charlotte to have a bid to host this event in the future. We are a huge market, and while we are new to the AHL I know we have what it takes to support and produce something fantastic. The AHL is filled with small markets and suburbs an hour or so removed from most major markets, so having a city like Charlotte host the game would be a huge boost to the league.
I know we’re a first-year team, but hopefully it won’t take us long to get our shot at an All Star game!