The reviews are in: Everyone from NHL commentators to the USA Today and the New York Times have called this year’s NHL All-Star Game in Nashville a big success, and those with the Predators organization agree.
“Everything about this weekend was magical, from the weather, to the corporate involvement, to just people coming down and enjoying the party.” Sean Henry, President and CEO of the Nashville Predators, said on Monday.
The weekend was estimated to have brought more than $20 million into the local economy, but Henry said that’s nothing compared to the experience that fans had.
“Biggest hockey fan, casual fan, people from out of town, people from here. Everyone said the same thing, it so far exceeded everyone’s expectations,” he said.
Those who attended the All-Star Game festivities said it was unlike any sporting event they’ve ever seen.
“I think the concerts really set it apart, made it really Nashville.” Brandon Zeman, a visitor from San Jose, said. “I could anticipate this (The NHL All-Star Game) being any better anywhere else.”
Cody Matthews, who came to see the All-Star game and experience Nashville from Toronto, agreed, saying not only was the weekend great with the concerts and events, but the passion of the Predators fans won him over.
“I’m leaving a Predators fan. How can you not be one after you see the environment that you’re put into?” Matthews proclaimed.
In addition to the direct economic impact in ticket sales, local businesses near downtown also saw a boost.
“Beer sales were definitely up.” Ernie Paquette, manager at 12th & Pine in The Gulch, said, adding that not only was it good for business, but good for Nashville in general.
“The city really made me proud this weekend.” Paqueete said, adding that he believes the excitement surrounding the All-Star Game and the good reviews will usher in a new group of hockey fans. “I think there will be a lot of new hockey fans born and bred right here in Nashville.”
The Predators hit the ice for the first time after winning four straight games on a Canadian road trip and taking a short break for the All-Star Game on Tuesday night against St. Louis.
The organization said on Monday, since the All-Star Game has ended, all of the focus has shifted to making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup.