Ten years after they hosted a successful NHL all-star game — and floated the idea of making Toronto its permanent home — the Maple Leafs are in the hunt again.
The Leafs hope to land either the 2012 or 2013 all-star weekend for the Air Canada Centre.
It is believed that Los Angeles is the front-runner for the 2011 all-star game, while Ottawa, which never has hosted the game, is considered Toronto’s main competition for 2012 or 2013.
“We’ve developed a very strong proposal that reflects making this NHL weekend event into the ultimate sports experience, and we’re confident that hockey fans and Torontonians share our desire,” Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd, said in a release on Thursday. “An important aspect of our bid is creating a legacy that continues to support the growth of hockey in our city for generations to come.”
That would include upgrading more local rinks, on top of the $1.2 million MLSEL has committed thus far for 13 facilities.
Hunter also brought up the tourist boom that hosting the game and the accompanying festivities would provide, with estimates of generating around $100 million.
Since Toronto hosted the game in 2000, the Air Canada Centre has undergone millions in renovations with more restaurants, improved sound and video and the construction of pedestrian-friendly Maple Leaf Square. As yet, none of the bells and whistles have been in operation for a playoff game.
The NHL is expected to announce the host cities of the 2012 and 2013 games in a couple of months. The Leafs are also bidding for the 2011 draft and want consideration to host the 2012 Winter Classic at an enlarged BMO Field.