Dean, NHL commissioner talk future All-Star Game in Nashville

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 2:16pm

A future NHL All-Star game in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was a leading topic Wednesday night when Mayor Karl Dean visited briefly with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Dean, attending Game 1 of the Nashville Predators Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Detroit Red Wings, stopped by a Bridgestone Arena luxury suite where the commissioner watched Nashville’s 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

“We have kind of a running joke,” Dean told The City Paper. “Whenever he sees me, the first thing he says is, ‘We’re working on the all-star game.”

Dean first met the commissioner in 2007 when the city fought to keep the Predators from Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, who sought to relocate Nashville’s original professional sports franchise to Hamilton, Ontario.

Five years after the franchise’s fate seemed in jeopardy, the Predators have upped its attendance figures and stabilized its place in the city. In addition, Dean and the Metro Council decided to spend $585 million on Music City Center –– and chipped in public dollars for an adjoining Omni Hotel –– a facility that by all accounts is a key ingredient to luring an NHL All-Star Game.

“What he told me is that with the new convention center, and the hotels that are being built, we’re a natural city to host the all-star game,” Dean said. “He couldn’t make a commitment as to what year, but he certainly knows the citizens of Nashville’s interest in it and he knows my interest in it. Literally, every time I see him I talk to him about it.”

Nashville tourism officials have buzzed about a potential NHL all-star game in Tennessee ever since the council voted to approve Music City Center’s financing in 2009.

Ottawa, Ontario, was home to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. The 2013 event is set for Columbus, Ohio. The NHL hasn’t announced where the 2014 all-star game will be held.

While in Nashville earlier this week, Bettman told reporters the league plans to hold a future all-star game in Nashville. He didn’t speculate on a year.

Bettman also took note of Nashville’s new massive 1.2 million-square-foot convention center, which stretches across six blocks south of the arena.

“It looks nice,” Bettman is quoted saying on “Very impressive looking. Big, very big."

Music City Center is set to open in the spring of 2013, with the Omni Hotel scheduled to open shortly thereafter.

“They’ll make their decision,” Dean said when asked what the earliest date the game could come to Nashville was. “Obviously, I want to see it [happen] the sooner the better.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: shinestx on 4/16/12 at 5:44

Scroooo Bettman... he's been promising Nashville a game for years now. And Dean meets "briefly" with him... sounds like just more putting-off the subject until he can flee town. Five years ago, Bettman was lobbying hard to get the Predators to leave town... and he's been promising an A-S game for three years with nothing to show for it. Just leave Mr. Bettman. We're okay without you.

By: gdiafante on 4/16/12 at 7:19

No, Bettman actually helped get the local ownership in line because the NHL did not (and does not) want Jim Balsillie to be an owner. He tried and failed in Pittsburgh and in Phoenix too.

And, it's common knowledge from the beginning that Nashville wouldn't get an All-Star game until they had more hotels and a better convention center. Bettman isn't promising because he's waiting for Nashville to comply. We'll get one eventually.

By the way, it's pretty sad, though, that Columbus has one before us.

By: JeffF on 4/16/12 at 9:31

just so you can see that a megaconvention center is not as important to the process as the komrades would make you think they are.

2013 Columbus 410,000 sq.ft
2012 Ottawa 192,000 sq.ft
2011 Raleigh 150,000 sq. ft. (no where near arena)
2009 Montreal 498,000 sq. ft

Comparison, the MCC will be 1.2 million square feet.

What would make people think that the convention facilities of the city really matter to the NHL? We already have the equivalent square footage as Ottawa. More hotel rooms than three of the four. This was a strawman argument designed to create yet another need for a building the Deaniacs wanted but could not justify with current real demand.

A review of the Women's Final Four sites will show the same thing, convention centers are meaningless to the decision makers but are important for the people to include in the proposals/bids show they can tell everyone.

The Music City brand is important for some people, it just is not that big a deal for everyone. The NHL is apparently one of those organizations that do not give a damn about convention centers and historic honky tonks. Right now every city is giving away meeting and event space and Nashville is just another one on the list. The NHL is a buyer and it is a buyer's market.

By: MusicCity615 on 4/17/12 at 11:09

Hey JeffF-

Thanks for taking the time to do your extensive research and list the sizes of the EXHIBIT HALLS for Columbus, Ottawa, Raleigh, and Montreal, and then compare that to the TOTAL SQ FOOTAGE of the Music City Center to make an Apples to Oranges comparison. And the Raleigh convention center is definitely close to the arena. Have you ever been to Raleigh?

For our viewers being misled by Jeff, Music City Center will have 370,000 sq. ft of exhibit space. That makes it quite comparable to the list our misleader has referenced.

By: JeffF on 4/17/12 at 7:26

the arena in Raleigh is located off their loop exactly 7.2 miles from their convention center and downtown so yea, its no where close. Also, have been there. The only arena further away from a downtown paradise is in Sunrise where the Panthers play (2003 all star game site, no convention center, no hotels, but a Mills mall, and a lot of empty land, been there as well).

Also I have been to Montreal. There the convention center and current arena are located on the opposite ends of downtown. They are several long subway stops away from each other. Not close. Probably the same distance WTC is from Javits in NY.

No response on how Ottawa slipped through the cracks of having no have MEGA convention space? Or Raleigh and their flopping fish of a convention center? Maybe they have better "brands"?

By: JeffF on 4/17/12 at 9:18

the distance between du Palais du Congress and the Bell Centre is just short of 1.7 miles. Not exactly a situation where the convention center really played into the bid.

By: MusicCity615 on 4/18/12 at 7:58

so you completely ignore the fact you lied about comparing exhibit space to total space, and now you are doing a distance comparison...

Ottawa and Montreal have a different marketing brand, i.e. they are in CANADA where hockey is king, not football, as in Tennessee.

I am very thankful for the Music City Center, and I have aboslutely zero ties financially to it.