Has there ever been a Southern tailgate before an NHL All-Star Game?
Probably not. But there will be this hockey season as the Carolina Hurricanes host the 2011 All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center.
"This will be a huge event for this franchise and this area," Canes goaltender Cam Ward said.
The 58th All-Star Game will be played Jan. 30 at the RBC Center. The Skills Competition will be held Saturday, Jan. 29, at the arena.
The Hurricanes have hosted the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and the 2002 and 2006 Stanley Cup finals. But it will be only the second major-league All-Star Game to be held in North Carolina - Charlotte hosted the 1991 NBA All-Star Game.
"The fact this event has been awarded to the Hurricanes is a testimony to the strength of the market, the strength of the franchise, and, above all, the enthusiastic support the 'Caniacs' show for their team," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The event should have an estimated economic impact of $10 million to $20 million, said Scott Dupree of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The 2011 All-Star Game was to be played in Phoenix but was put up for bid by the NHL last year because of financial uncertainties surrounding the Coyotes franchise. The Hurricanes' bid was chosen over several others, including one from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In addition to the hockey at the RBC Center, the NHL will host fan events at the Raleigh Convention Center Jan. 28-30, with a 150,000 square-foot interactive hockey theme park.