TAMPA (FOX 13) - The National Hockey League has announced that the Tampa Bay Lightning and the city of Tampa will play host to the 2018 NHL All-Star weekend.
The weekend will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, January 27 and the All-Star Game on Sunday, January 28.
"In addition to the events on the ice, we're planning outside activities which will embrace the Tampa Bay community and Gasparilla events -- as well as the Florida sunshine," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "We know Jeff Vinik, the Lightning and Amalie Arena will be outstanding hosts as the NHL family gathers for our mid-season showcase."
This is the second time Tampa will host the All-Star game. The last time was in 1999.
"We are thrilled to host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena," said Jeff Vinik, chairman and governor of the Tampa Bay Lightning. "We've worked hard over the past several years to transform Tampa Bay into a hockey market. The honor of hosting the All-Star game validates that work, but it's not the end of our efforts. We pledge to work alongside the NHL as well as leaders across Tampa Bay to deliver a world class experience for All-Star players, fans, and partners."
The announcement puts Tampa Bay back in the sports spotlight. During a five-year span that began this year with the College Football Playoff National Championship, the city will host the NHL All-Star weekend, the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, part of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, capped off with the Super Bowl in 2021.
Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Sports Authority, said success brings more opportunities.
"You're only as good as your last event. We're fortunate that January's College Football Playoff National Championship was a huge success," he said.
The All-Star game will come with some added challenges: it's the same weekend as the Gasparilla Festival and hundreds of thousands of people could be coming to the area.
Higgins is approaching it with a positive outlook.
"We're so fortunate that the folks that organize the Gasparilla invasion have been really receptive open to it. They see it as as big of an opportunity as we do," Higgins told FOX 13. "We think both events not only can co-exist but they can be mutually beneficial. It's an opportunity to expose the Gasparilla festival to an all new audience that has never gotten a chance to be a part of it."
Details for tickets and events have not yet been released.