Local News

Carolina Hurricanes To Host Hockey Draft In 2004

Posted March 27, 2002 10:12 a.m. EST

— The Carolina Hurricanes will host hockey's draft in 2004, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday.

Bettman said the two-day event will be held June 26-27, 2004, at the 18,730-seat Entertainment and Sports Arena and is expected to pump about $8 million into the area's economy.

Bettman also promised the Hurricanes would host an All-Star game by 2006, but refused to give a specific date or year.

"There is an old saying, `What a difference a year makes,"' Bettman said. "I was here a year ago and that initiated a drive to further ingrain the support for this franchise in the Triangle. The community's response has been nothing sport of phenomenal.

"This market, the fan support, this building and this team are coming together in ways that I supposed only (owner) Pete Karmanos and I may have envisioned five years ago," Bettman said. "It is extremely gratifying."

The franchise moved from Hartford, Conn., to North Carolina in the summer of 1997, and after four seasons of sluggish ticket sales, the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes are averaging 15,156 this year, including 12 sellouts.

The attendance is a 14 percent increase over 2000-2001.

"It is important for a lot of the other hockey communities to understand that this is a viable market and there are some real good hockey fans here," Karmanos said. "The draft helps all of that."

This summer's hockey draft will be held in Toronto, then in Nashville, Tenn., in 2003, before coming to North Carolina.

Next year's All-Star game will be in Florida, with the 2004 and 2005 games yet to be announced by the NHL.

Bettman said the league is still reviewing the Triangle's plans to build more hotels and upgrade and expand Raleigh's convention center before making an announcement on the All-Star game's future here.

"We're coming and we're planning on coming in the time frame I promised, so that's not an issue," Bettman said.

While fans are excited about the draft, some are having an icy reaction to another annoucement made by the Carolina Hurricanes. The team plans to

raise ticket prices

for the 2002-03 season by as much as 60 percent.

The cheapest seats will remain at $12, but seats in the lower bowl area will increase an average of $10. Team officials said their prices are still well below the league's average. They said they have to hike prices to stay competitive, and survive.

The team will not release financial information from this season, but its owner said the it lost $15 million two years ago.