SPORTS

Sources: Nashville to host 2016 NHL all-star game as league plans out future

10/15/2014 12:48 EDT | Updated 12/15/2014 05:59 EST
Nashville will host the NHL all-star game for the first time in 2016, sources told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

A formal announcement is expected to be made at a news conference Friday at Bridgestone Arena. Commissioner Gary Bettman and local politicians will be in attendance.

Bettman said in April 2012 during a trip to Nashville that Music City will host an all-star game. But the commissioner said then he couldn't give a date with the event needing "stars to line up."

Nashville hosted the Women's Final Four in April and is a finalist to host again between 2017 and 2020 at Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators since their inaugural season in 1998-99. The arena also is scheduled to host the Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament nine of the next 10 years starting in March.

A three-time all-star, Predators captain Shea Weber said the game is a lot of fun. Weber said it will be very exciting for Nashville and a nice reward for the Predators' fans.

"They are the best fans in the league," Weber said after practice Wednesday. "For it to come to a city here where they are going to enjoy it, the festivities are great. The cities I have been to in the past have done a great job of putting in other things for families and people to do. There's so much for people to do here, it's a great venue and I think people are going to enjoy it."

The Predators hosted the NHL's entry draft in 2003 and have been on a short list to host the mid-season showcase. But Nashville needed a bigger downtown convention centre to host all the festivities connected with the all-star game.

The Music City Center opened in May 2013.

This is the latest event to be announced by the National Hockey League as it plans out its showcase stops over the next few years. The Winter Classic will take place at Nationals Park in Washington on Jan. 1, and later that month Columbus's Nationwide Arena will hold the 2015 all-star game.

June's draft will be at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., and the 2016 event will be at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

"We put on more events than ever before," Bettman said recently while in Toronto. "We create more content, the players are so tremendously accessible. ... There's just more and more and more because we're bigger and bigger and bigger."

With the Maple Leafs set to celebrate their 100-year anniversary during the 2016-'17 campaign, Toronto has been linked to the return of the World Cup of Hockey, Winter Classic, all-star game and the draft.

It's not clear how many of those events might be held in the city that season.

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With files from The Associated Press.

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