With nine weeks left before the 2018 ECHL All-Star hockey game, officials for the Indy Fuel—who are hosting the game—are as optimistic as ever that the game will sell out.
The game is scheduled for Jan. 15 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Tickets to the general public went on sale Oct. 23.
The ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, is considered the “AA” minor league for the National Hockey League.
“Momentum for this game has really been building,” said Fuel CEO Sean Hallett. “We expect to sell the game out for sure.”
The fairgrounds coliseum has a capacity of 6,800. Ticket sales are off to a brisk start.
The puck drops at 1 p.m. on a Monday—Martin Luther King Day—when many schools and some businesses are closed. Hallett said he thinks the date and timing of the game will help fuel ticket sales.
NHL great Wayne Gretzky, who in 1978 scored his first goals as a professional player during an eight-game stint with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey League, has agreed to drop the puck to start the all-star game. He'll also hand out trophies to youth players who play in a tournament being held in conjunction with the event and make other public appearances.
“We think Wayne Gretzky’s participation alone is reason for a sellout,” Hallett said.
Gretzky’s participation is especially significant, said Indy Fuel Chairman Jim Hallett, who wants hockey popularity to reach new levels in Indianapolis.
Jim Hallett told IBJ he wants the Fuel to do for central Indiana what Gretzky did for Los Angeles when he played for the National Hockey League’s Kings from 1988 to 1996.
The all-star game and Gretzky's participation are another step in that direction.
“Wayne Gretzky is going to help us tell the story of hockey in Indianapolis,” Sean Hallett said.
For the first time in ECHL history, the 2018 All-Star Classic will feature four teams, representing each of the league’s divisions.
In a format similar to those adapted by the NHL and American Hockey League all-star games, the four teams will compete in a 3-on-3 tournament in order to crown a winner. The 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place between the semifinal and championship rounds of the tournament.
This game marks the first time, at least in recent history, that Indianapolis has hosted a professional hockey all-star game.
“We think it’s going to be a really special event,” Jim Hallett said. “And we’re going to make sure everything is run first-class. We think this is a big opportunity for our organization.”
To begin the festivities, the Fuel will host the 2018 ECHL All-Star Fan Fest on Sunday, Jan. 14, at The Pavilion at Pan Am.
Even before tickets went on sale to the public, Fuel officials offered them to the team’s full- and partial-season ticket holders. The reception among those fans, Sean Hallett said, has been “enthusiastic. We’re getting great support for this event.”
Seats for the All-Star Classic start at $29 for the 300 level of the arena, with 200 level tickets available for $39, and 100 level, bar and loge seating priced at $49 each. Group packages of 25 tickets or more can be reserved by visiting ECHLAllStarClassic.com.
The game will be televised by the NHL Network.
Last season’s ECHL All-Star Game drew 3,767 to the 4,794-seat Glens Falls Civic Center in Glenn Falls, New York, home of the Adirondack Thunder.