2015 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic coming to Orlando

ORLANDO — The last time Orlando saw a professional hockey All-Star game was in 1998 when the IHL held it’s All-Star showcase in the old Orlando Arena. On Monday the Orlando Solar Bears, along with the ECHL, the City of Orlando and Visit Orlando announced that the 2015 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic will be coming to Central Florida along with it’s week-long schedule of events.

“Orlando in the middle of January, in a world-class facility,” said ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna at the beginning of Monday’s presser. “This really wasn’t a very difficult decision for our board of governors.”

The press conference on Monday featured City of Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, ECHL commissioner McKenna, Visit Orlando president George Aguel, as well as Solar Bears officials Jason Siegel, Joe Haleski and Bob Ohrablo, and ended with the unveiling of the logo for the 2015 All-Star Classic, which will be played on Wednesday, January 21, 2015.

“We’re thrilled,” said Ohrablo about being awarded the All-Star game. “We get to show off Orlando 36 times a year against the visiting teams but really to show not just the ECHL, but NHL, the AHL teams that will be coming to the game, the fans from around the league an opportunity to see Orlando and see this beautiful city. It’s just thrilling for us.”

The ECHL’s record attendance for an All-Star game is just under 11,500, according to McKenna, a number mayor Dyer and Solar Bears officials believe they surpass.

“We look forward to an exciting All-Star event,” said Dyer to commissioner McKenna during the press conference. “And I can promise you we will bust that attendance record.”

“We’re confident, time will tell.” said Siegel about being able to break the All-Star Classic’s attendance record.

Orlando has a track record of acquiring big games. The 2012 NBA All-Star Game was recently played at the Amway Center, while the Arena Football League’s, Arena Bowl will be taking place later in August at the Amway, as well as the return of NCAA March Madness in 2014.

The week-long schedule of events starts off with the Orlando Youth Hockey/Martin Luther King Day Tournament at RDV Sportsplex Ice Den from Friday, January 16, and running until Monday, January 19. The tournament will bring more than 50 youth hockey teams from across the U.S. and Canada to Central Florida.

The ECHL All-Star FanFest will be held on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, the day before the Classic, and will feature a special Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit, interactive games, giveaway, memorabilia and player appearances, all on what will be dubbed “All-Star Tuesday.”

All-Star Wednesday will include an open practice at the Amway Center, the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon, as well as the ECHL skills competition, all leading up to the All-Star Classic that night. The format for the All-Star Classic will feature the Solar Bears playing against All-Stars selected from the other 21 teams in the league.

Orlando’s announcement of the All-Star Classic coming to “The City Beautiful” comes smack-dab in the middle of one of the biggest months in sports that Central Florida has seen in a long time.

“It’s been a good month,” said Mayor Dyer following Monday’s press conference. “So many positive things moving forward in our community and to come out of a recession this strong and  to keep adding new events. We promised the world that when we built these venues we’d be able to host fabulous events and this is another great example of that.”

Last week saw Orlando City SC move one step closer to becoming a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise when the Tourist Development Council unanimously voted in favor of awarding the club $20M in Tourist Development Tax for financing of a new multi-purpose stadium.

While this Saturday the Arena Football League (AFL) will be holding their championship game, the Arena Bowl, in the Amway Center.

“Just to think of all the great things happening to this destination. You sit down and you say one thing, ‘this is a cool destination.’” said President/CEO of the Central Florida Sports Commission, John Bisignano following the press conference. “Think of all the great things that just happened last week and we’re part of that.”

Bisignano also mentioned that the Sports Commission will be making a bid for Wrestlemania XXXII in 2016, as well as 25 NCAA events including the Frozen Four.