RALEIGH — Tickets to January's NHL All-Star Game at the RBC Center will be tough for most Raleigh residents to snag.
But local leaders announced a slew of events Wednesday that will allow everyone to enjoy a bit of the hoopla in the days preceding the big game.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Paul Coble, newly elected chairman of Wake County's Board of Commissioners, announced All-Star Wide Open - festivities that will include a 5K race for charity, a street festival modeled after the popular Raleigh Wide Open, a series of concerts at Raleigh's downtown amphitheater and a fan festival in the convention center.
Joined by cardboard cutouts of Sir Walter Raleigh in hockey gear, Coble and Meeker - onetime political rivals - praised the city and county for becoming "a worldwide hub of all things hockey."
"All-Star Wide Open will not only remind Wake and Triangle residents why this is such an exciting place to live, but introduce thousands of visitors to our region's unique energy and resources," said Coble, a former Raleigh mayor.
Don't fear that the January weather will be too cold for many of the outside events planned. Warming stations with music and hot chocolate will be scattered throughout downtown Raleigh, said Billy Warden, who is helping to market the event. Many vendors will erect their displays and samples indoors, he said.
"The bottom line is, we're a hockey town, and we'll brave the cold," Warden said. "But we're mindful of the fact some folks will need places to warm up."
There are talks about running shuttles from the convention center to the RBC Center on the weekend of the game.
Officials say All-Star Wide Open will help pump money into the local economy through food and hotel sales. They expect the entire weekend to bring in up to $10 million, said Scott Dupree, vice president for sports marketing at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Meeker said with the game and all its events, "we've scored a huge win for the region."
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