Columbus Blue Jackets to play host for 2013 NHL All-Star Game
As Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch first reported on Friday night and was confirmed Saturday morning by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the 2013 All-Star Game will take place Jan. 26-27 at Nationwide Arena with the Columbus Blue Jackets playing hosts.
The selection of Columbus for next year's event has taken awhile. According to Portzline, the Blue Jackets have shown interest in the past, but a few factors played into the delayed decision.
From the Dispatch:
In the past, the NHL would not approve Columbus as a host for the game because the area around Nationwide Arena lacked a sufficient number of high-end hotel rooms needed to house sponsors, celebrities, players, etc. But a 500-room Hilton, being built just blocks from Nationwide Arena, is planned for completion by Sept. 2012, a month before the 2012-13 season opens.
Also, the league informed Columbus two years ago that it would not be considered as a host city until it achieved financial stability in the form of a new lease agreement.
That agreement was struck last month, when Franklin County commissioners approved a plan in which money from the still-under-construction West Side casino will be used by Franklin County to buy Nationwide Arena. In return, Nationwide has assumed a 30 percent ownership stake in the franchise.
Columbus makes it seven of the last eight All-Star Games to be hosted by first-time cities. You'd have to believe Phoenix might have been in the mix, but the uncertainty of their future makes that choice impossible.
So congratulations Rick Nash on your 2013 NHL All-Star captaincy ... that is, if you're not traded anywhere before then.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy