An All-Star success
Posted February 2, 2011
I’ve been to some major sporting events but have never taken in an All-Star weekend for any professional sport.
Now that Raleigh has quieted back down to its normal hum, the posters have been removed from building fronts and the Hurricanes are back on the ice focusing on the playoffs – I can’t help but come to the conclusion that my first All-Star weekend may be the best one I experience ever.
It’s no secret the national buzz has been extremely positive over the course of the weekend. And though the emails from the NHL have slowly come to halt with the close of All-Star weekend Sunday evening, one did pop up Wednesday that solidified peoples remarks.
“By all measures, this was one of the NHL's most successful All-Star weekends ever with fans and our corporate partners embracing the event in a big way,” said NHL COO John Collins. “Our hosts in Raleigh did a tremendous job and it was gratifying to see the entire community energized around hockey. Our new innovation, the Player Fantasy Draft, was a huge hit. The Skills Challenge and the All-Star Game saw substantial viewership and digital increases.”
That’s high praise from someone who has been to a lot of NHL events, but putting it in numbers shows it that more clearly.
- VERSUS scored its most watched NHL-All Star game in network history, hitting 2 million viewers at its peak.
- VERSUS averaged 1.18 million viewers for the SuperSkills competition, a 35 percent increase over 2009.
- The Fantasy Draft saw an average of 624,000 viewers a 107 percent increase from regular season game viewership on VERSUS.
- Corporate sponsorship was up 42% over the last U.S. based game.
- Overall retail sales were the best for an All-Star Game held in the United States in seven years and the third best in history for U.S.-based games.
The numbers don’t lie. And even though I have nothing to compare it to, I’d agree it was a pretty big success. The city was electric all weekend. Being a downtown resident each morning I could hear the festivities starting on Fayetteville St. and each morning I found myself walking downstairs and into Raleigh Wide Open and The Fan Fest to take it all in.
People of all ages flooded the streets and it was heart warming to see all the smiling faces. I met people from all over the country but most were true Carolina fans rocking their Hurricanes jerseys, showing pride in their team and State.
But Fayetteville Street wasn't the only strip that reaped the benefits of the All-Star event, each night hockey players and famous commentators could be spotted on Glenwood taking in dinner and drinks. Cabanas were selling like hot cakes at Solas, dinner reservations were hard to come by at Sullivans and The Progress Energy Center transformed Sunday night into a posh nightclub for the VERSUS after-party.
Raleigh really out-did itself as the place to be and be seen over the weekend.
From the Fanstasy Draft, to the SuperSkills, and then to the actual All-Star game I was impressed by the fan support here locally and how well it all came together. I had the opportunity to go to the All-Star game and it was truly a spectacle. The RBC Center turned into a light and graphics effects show, and the players really felt the love for the game and hospitality from the fans.
It was a great weekend for Raleigh and even though the NHL-All Stars have left town and everyone is back to business as usual, Raleigh will continue to reap the benefits from the national spotlight for a long time to come.
And just in case you need more proof...
“With the sports world raving about the innovative player draft at this past weekend's NHL All-Star Game, the focus now shifts to other sports that have gotten heat over outdated and uninteresting formats.” – CBSSports.com
“Officially the most exciting All-Star format in professional sports.” – Yahoo Sports
“A brilliant innovation.” – Yahoo Sports on the Player Draft
“Raleigh will be a tough All-Star act to follow…What a party it was…The bar has been raised high by the friendly folks in Raleigh.” – Ottawa Citizen
“There were many good things about the event in Raleigh. Even for the most cynical media types, it was hard not to feel a good deal of affection for the new innovation.” – ESPN.com