Utica to host 2015 AHL All-Star Classic

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the AHL Board of Governors has unanimously approved the selection of the Utica Comets as hosts of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino on Jan. 25-26, 2015.

The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino will include the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 25, followed by the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on Monday, January 26 and the 2015 AHL All-Star Game that evening. The Skills Competition and the All-Star Game will take place at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in downtown Utica; all other events during the All-Star Classic will take place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in nearby Verona, N.Y.

“The American Hockey League is thrilled to be bringing our showcase event to Utica this winter,” said Andrews. “Each year, hockey’s brightest young stars shine on our All-Star stage in front of capacity crowds and international television audiences. Between the great fans in the Mohawk Valley, the rich history of the Aud and the world-class accommodations at Turning Stone, the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic is destined to be the most memorable All-Star Classic to date.”

The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino will pit the top players from the AHL’s Eastern Conference against the best of the Western Conference. Tickets are priced at $49, $69 and $89, and include admission to both the Skills Competition on Jan. 25 and the All-Star Game on Jan. 26. Utica Comets season-ticket holders will have an opportunity to reserve their seats beginning Oct. 20; remaining tickets will go on sale to the public on Nov. 3.

Details and ticket information for other social events to take place during the All-Star Classic, including the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, will be announced at a later date.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have been selected to host the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic,” said Robert Esche, president of the Utica Comets. “It is a great honor to hold the event in the city of Utica, a community that has embraced hockey for years. We look forward to collaborating with the AHL and the Turning Stone Resort Casino to put on a spectacular weekend of events.”

“Oneida County and the City of Utica are honored to host the AHL All-Star Classic,” said Anthony J. Picente, Jr., Oneida County Executive. “What a compliment it is to Rob Esche and what he has done to make Utica and the Comets a member of the AHL family. I also want to thank Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and the Oneida Indian Nation for their support in this endeavor. They continue to show what it means to be partners in the success of this region. When the County of Oneida invested millions of dollars into the historic Auditorium over the past two years this is the type of exciting attraction we envisioned taking place. The AHL All-Star Classic is another example of the turnaround we have seen in this region and the positivity that is embracing our future.”

“We thank Governor [Andrew M.] Cuomo, Oneida County Executive Picente and the American Hockey League for sharing our vision to bring diverse, world-class entertainment to our region and spotlighting Central New York as a major entertainment area of the state,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and Nation Enterprises CEO. “There is a tremendous amount of pride for the AHL and the Utica Comets in our region and we are honored to be a part of this unique event.”

“It is great news that Utica has been selected to host the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic, and Empire State Development’s Division of Tourism, I Love NY, is proud to partner with this event,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “My administration has focused heavily on investing in tourism and attracting major events — and the visitors and economic impact that they bring — to communities all across Upstate New York, and that is exactly what the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic will do in downtown Utica. We are pleased that the AHL has selected Oneida County and the City of Utica to host this event, and I commend County Executive Picente, the partners at Turning Stone and the Utica Comets and AHL for their efforts in making this happen.”

In addition to playing in front of crowds at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino will be televised nationally in Canada on Sportsnet and across the United States on a comprehensive network of regional partners, reaching more than 100 million households. Further broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

The Utica Comets serve as the Vancouver Canucks’ top development affiliate as members of the American Hockey League. The Comets nickname honors hockey’s history in the Mohawk Valley, which dates back to the Mohawk Valley and Clinton Comets in the early- to mid-1900’s.

The Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino continues to distinguish itself as a premier destination for professional sporting events, including PGA-level golf and nationally televised boxing matches. Located in Verona, N.Y., the four-season resort offers world-class entertainment and gaming, prestigious restaurants, luxury spa facilities and award-winning accommodations. Turning Stone was named “Most Excellent Golf Resort” in 2010 by Conde Nast Johansens and the Academy of Country Music named Turning Stone “Casino of the Year” in 2009.

The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: Of the 644 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 94 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Briere, Ryan Callahan, Zdeno Chara, Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Chris Kunitz, Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan, Martin St. Louis, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza and Eric Staal.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 13th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2013-14.