Cary expects All-Star boost

NHL owners, fans fill local hotels


CARY - The National Hockey League All-Star Game will bring a cast of multi-millionaires, hockey fans and international media to Cary next weekend.

The RBC Center, which is the site of the game, sits just inside Raleigh's border with Cary. Its proximity will help provide a surge to local restaurants and hotels.

"I think what you are seeing is an amplification of the image of this part of the state ... as a sports marketplace," said Russ Smith, the general manager of the Embassy Suites hotel in Cary.

The annual event brought a $10 million economic boost to recent host cities, said Scott Dupree, vice president for sports marketing for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The game is scheduled for Jan. 30, but fans will arrive this week to attend an assortment of events, including receptions, a 5K and concerts that begin Friday. The Triangle's "one professional sport is the NHL, and the All-Star Game is the pinnacle of high-profile events for that sport," Smith said.

A 'showcase' for Cary

Smith's hotel is the official host for an international media corps that will number in the hundreds.


And the NHL's governing board, which includes owners of all 30 franchises, will stay at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary.

"I think it's going to be an incredibly good surge [for hotels in] all of Wake County," Beley said. "This is a very large event."

The Umstead and Embassy Suites are completely sold out for All-Star Weekend, their managers said.

On a typical weekend, by comparison, the Umstead is between 75 percent and 80 percent occupied, with rates starting at $279 a night.

The luxury hotel was touted as Raleigh lobbied to host the game, Beley said.

And with most or all of the owners staying in town, some influential eyes will see the area. Their schedules will be packed, but Dupree said the visit could boost Cary.

"Having these groups of folks literally staying in Cary is going to be a tremendous opportunity for Cary to be showcased," Dupree said.

In addition to their hockey teams, he said, the team owners control "a whole lot of business interests."

The town of Cary itself doesn't have any plans to capitalize on the game.

But the Cary Chamber of Commerce, with funding from the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, plans to hoist about 100 All-Star banners near downtown Cary and Harrison Avenue.

Big game, big money

Beley worked in Philadelphia in 1992 when the city hosted the All-Star Game and he said most every restaurant and hotel in the city was full.

A similar boost came when Atlanta hosted the 2008 All-Star Game at Philips Arena.

Sarah Solomon, a spokeswoman for the city's tourism organization, said 23,000 people attended the weekend's events, generating about $20 million in income for the area.

A cheap ticket to this year's game is tough to find.

But that's good news for the sports bars and restaurants in the area.

John Galanos, a manager at the Carolina Ale House in Cary, hoped the game would draw crowds of ticketless people to watch via television.

"We've got quite a big following on the games," Galanos said.