By Scott Linesburgh
The Stockton Record
STOCKTON, Calif. – The ECHL all-stars will align in Stockton next year.
ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna announced Thursday that Stockton will host the 16th renewal of the midseason event, beginning with a skills competition on Jan. 22 and concluding with the all-star game on Jan. 23 at Stockton Arena.
The past five all-star games have brought at least $1 million to the economy of the host city.
“It’s very exciting for us, and this will put us on the hockey map in the United States and Canada,” Thunder President and Stockton City Council member Dan Chapman (pictured) said. “This is a great event for us and the city.”
McKenna said two other teams submitted proposals, but Stockton prevailed. The Thunder led the league in attendance during its inaugural season and currently leads the ECHL with an average of 6,853 fans per game.
“There were several factors that went into the decision,” McKenna said. “First and foremost, the folks in Stockton put forth a very strong bid for the game, and we are very impressed with the job the organization has done in the first two years and the great job they’ve done introducing hockey and the ECHL to the market.
“And thirdly, it’s a great way for the league to recognize and thank the fans of Stockton for their support in the first couple of years by bringing the event to the city.”
Stockton now has been named as the all-star host city for its professional hockey, baseball and indoor soccer teams.
The Stockton Ports host the California League/Carolina League All-Star Game on June 19 at Stockton Ballpark, and the Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star Game will come next February to Stockton Arena.
“I think this speaks to the facilities that we have, and the fact that we are drawing these events is telling,” Stockton Mayor Ed Chavez said. “I feel the Thunder has done a great job and attendance is phenomenal, and getting the all-star game is icing on the cake.”
Chavez laughed and added: “Or more to the point, the icing on the ice.”
Besides the teams, coaches and fans, the ECHL invites 400 to 600 guests, according to McKenna. Chapman said the host hotel will be the Sheraton at Weber Point, which is being constructed, and he expects at least 500 hotel and motel rooms will be booked in the area.
The biggest decision the team had to make was whether it should try to host the all-star game in just its third season.
“We felt all along that if we submitted a proposal, it would be looked upon very favorably by the league,” Chapman said. “And it just felt like our market was primed and ready to host an all-star game.”
2007 Boise (Idaho): $1.2 million
2006 Fresno: $1.6 million
2005 Reading (Pa.): $1.4 million
2004 Peoria (Ill.): $1 million
2003 Fort Myers (Fla.): $1 million