Flyers to host 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center
PITTSBURGH – It might not be Toronto or Montreal, but Philadelphia is quickly proving itself to be a hockey town in its own right.
After hosting three Stanley Cup Final games in 2010 and the Winter Classic in 2012, the city was awarded the 2014 NHL draft on Friday.
“I think it’s really important for us in Philadelphia,” said Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko. “We’ve always said we’re a Flyer town, maybe not a hockey town. I think it’s a confirmation of where we’ve come as a true hockey market.”
2014 will be a busy year for the Flyers, who will also play host to the year’s NCAA Frozen Four college hockey tournament. The Wells Fargo Center has never before hosted either event.
“I think everyone’s going to expect something every year,” Luukko said. “… We have been fortunate, but I think it goes to show you the nature of the market and the type of support the market gives us, not only locally but as a league.”
The good news for local hockey fans is that entry to the draft will be completely free of charge. While the Flyers haven’t worked out exactly how tickets will be doled out, Luukko promised the city will offer a variety of events surrounding the draft to attract the public.
“We’ll try and do a lot of social events around this too,” Luukko said. “For our season ticket holders and the fans, and make a real party out of it and a real good time.”
After being held in Montreal for the first 17 years of its existence, the NHL draft moved to Toronto in 1985. It's returned to Montreal and Toronto in years since, but has moved around amongst the league's teams since 2002. The New Jersey Devils will host the 2013 draft at the Prudential Center.
Luukko expressed hope that local prospects could be eligible for the 2014 draft, and that would be the ultimate confirmation of Philadelphia's emergence as a hockey city. But whether or not any products of the local youth hockey scene make it to the big event, the draft will provide a huge boost to the economy.
“The hotels will be full, the restaurants will be full,” Luukko said. “People will have a lot of fun. And it brings people from all over the world, maybe people don’t realize it – you look at the draft, people are being drafted from all over the world. There’s coverage all over the world. And I think that’ll be great for Philadelphia as a destination city.”E-mail Sarah Baicker at email@example.com