Portland, ME – What has been the worst kept secret in Portland for the last several weeks was finally announced on Thursday afternoon.
As first reported on Maine Hockey Journal, the Portland Pirates will host the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic weekend from Jan. 18-19 at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The announcement was made by AHL President Dave Andrews during a press conference held this afternoon at the Civic Center.
Portland, which last held the event in 2003, will be only one of four cities (Hershey, Rochester and Providence) to hold an All-Star event multiple times and the first in the modern era since the event was re-established in 1995.
The AHL had three other bids, although Andrews didn’t reveal who they were, he noted that it was the Pirates past experiences with the handling of the event that made Portland the favorite choice.
“We looked at the Portland situation, and the success we had last time was important,” said Andrews. “We felt the community connection that (Pirates Managing Owner/CEO) Brian (Petrovek) has built here and the Pirates have built was really important, and stronger in some ways then our other markets.”
“We felt Portland was far further ahead in their preparation in terms of showing us what would happen, how it would happen and how we’d be successful than the other cities were.”
One of the keys to the bid was the Pirates ability to utilize other venues in Portland. With the addition of Ocean Gateway which will be used for a Welcome Reception and using Merrill Auditorium for the AHL Hall of Fame ceremony as well has having more hotel options in Portland, the Pirates were able to delivery a fresh bid from 2003.
“We still have the walking culture of the event in the way we’ve selected our venues that once somebody gets here and checks into a hotel they really don’t need to get into a car after that.”
“I think the opportunity to come back only six years later and to be able to repackage the event with different venues but it all starts in the (Civic Center).”
In 2003, the last time the event was held in Portland, it was hampered by issues with the sound system for nearly two periods of play, but Andrews didn’t feel the size, or age of the building was issue.
“It’s a pretty capable building,” he said. “It’s not state of the art, but it’s a quality facility.”
“There was nothing that would have concerned us about coming to Portland. We know what Brian (Petrovek) can do, and what this marketplace is like and how strong the fan base is.”
During the event which is expected to last upward of a week in Portland, it’s expected that 1.4 million dollars will be injected into the local economy.