January is here, meaning that there are several professional hockey All-Star Games to look forward to over the coming weeks. We look at the upcoming events in the NHL, AHL and ECHL, where notable venues in St. Louis, Southern California and Wichita will be hosting All-Star Games.
The 2020 NHL All-Star Game will take place at Enterprise Center, the home of the St. Louis Blues. This will mark the first NHL All-Star Game played in St. Louis since 1988 and the first at Enterprise Center, which originally opened as Kiel Center in 1994. The All-Star Game is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, part of a days’ long series of events that will begin on Thursday, January 23, and include the All-Star Skills Competition on Friday and various offerings around St. Louis on Sunday.
Notably, the All-Star Game comes on the heels of major renovations to Enterprise Center. An initial round of upgrades took place over the summer of 2017, while renovations completed in 2018 resulted in major changes to the fan experience—including the introduction of new gathering spaces and premium areas. (We spoke with project officials from lead architect Generator Studio about that round of renovations in a September 2018 story.) Leading up to this season, additional upgrades took place at Enterprise Center, including a total seat replacement in the lower bowl, new LED concourse lighting, and more.
Beginning on January 26, attention will turn to Ontario, CA’s Toyota Arena, the site of the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic. Home of the Ontario Reign, Toyota Arena will host two days’ worth of All-Star events, starting with a Fan Fest and Skills Competition on Sunday, January 26, followed by the All-Star Challenge on Monday, January 27.
For the AHL, one of the most significant details on the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic is that it will mark the first time that the annual event is staged in California. The Reign relocated to Ontario from Manchester, NH prior to the 2015-16 season, making it one of five teams to settle in California and help expand the AHL’s footprint to the west. The Pacific Division was established that year and has become a mainstay in the league. Meanwhile, the AHL’s footprint in California has held steady at five teams and is set to grow to six with the planned addition of a Palm Springs expansion team in 2021.
While the NHL and AHL both have interesting All-Star events in the works, it will actually be the ECHL that stages its annual competition first. On Wednesday, January 22, the ECHL All-Star Classic will take place at Intrust Bank Arena, the home of the Wichita Thunder.
The Warrior Hockey/ECHL All-Star Classic features a 3-on-3 tournament with four teams competing for the top prize, and a skills competition taking place between rounds of the tournament, with the results from that counting toward the cumulative score. On the day prior to the Classic, the ECHL will stage its annual Hall of Fame dinner and a FanFest at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview.
For Intrust Bank Arena, the ECHL All-Star Classic will mark the latest entry in a long line of notable sporting events that have taken place at the venue since its 2010 opening. Intrust Bank Arena hosted NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball March Madness action in 2018, and will do so again in 2021, while several Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) preseason games have been staged there in the past.
Image courtesy Enterprise Center.
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