By: Will Burchfield
Detroit has hosted the NHL All-Star Game just once in the past 61 years, but league commissioner Gary Bettman expects the event to return to Hockeytown soon after the completion of Little Caesars Arena.
“We’re going to wait until everything is up and running and the construction around the area is complete, but I definitely see League events there in the future,” Bettman told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. “We’ve had preliminary discussions, we haven’t nailed down a date yet.”
The Red Wings move into LCA at the start of next season. To honor the late Mike Ilitch, Bettman wants to ensure the surrounding infrastructure, dubbed ‘The District Detroit’, is in full bloom before shining the spotlight on the city Ilitch helped revive.
“We want to make sure that the vision around the building and all the construction that has to be done will be completed so that everybody we bring to Detroit for the celebration will see the full experience and the full vision that Mike and (his wife) Marian had for Detroit,” Bettman said. “It’s going to be remarkable. I mean, think about what they’ve done in Detroit over the last 20 years when nobody was doing that type of investing downtown.”
Detroit hosted the All-Star Game four times in a six year span from 1950 to 1955. The midseason event returned in 1980, but hasn’t been back since. One figures Ilitch would have been proud to see that streak come to an end.
“He was absolutely committed to the city of Detroit, as evidenced by all the things that he and Marian built downtown and all of the commitment that they made from their personal resources to help bring back a revitalization of the city,” Bettman said.
The commissioner, whose 24-year tenure is eclipsed by the Wings’ 25-year playoff streak, is looking forward to paying a final visit to The Joe.
“Listen, it’s past its due date, we can acknowledge that, but there are so many great memories and so many special times that took place there. The building deserves the respect and the admiration that we all have for it. I’m going to certainly be there one last time,” he said.