St. Pete Times Forum (Bruce Bennett | Getty Images)
2012 is epic for the city of Tampa and the St. Pete Times Forum. Times Palace is already renown as a top venue for entertainment, but there are two marquee events that are making its way to the Forum next spring and summer, respectively: The 2012 NCAA Frozen Four (college hockey's equivalent to the Final Four) and the 2012 Republican National Convention (editor note: I mention the event, lets abstain from the politics / political reaction in comments, please).
But between April and August, punctuated by a few NHL hockey games and the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs (no pressure, Guy, Steve...) there's going to be a good deal of idle time at the Forum. Of course, it's not idle time for the building, as events are always ongoing there (concerts, the circus, etc), but on the scale of marquee events, Times Palace will have a break in the action around the time of the summer solstice.
How about Tampa hosting the 2012 NHL Entry Draft?
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is the golden anniversary of the NHL Draft - the 50th in league history. If the NHL is clinging to the idea of history and nostalgia for the draft that year, it's the biggest case against Tampa hosting the draft as compared to Toronto, Detroit, New York, or other long-time markets in the league.
As a host city, though, Tampa has already done that on the national (and international) stage. The region has played host to Super Bowls, NCAA tournament action, and World Series games. It's hosted the NHL All-Star game in 1998 as well.
Oh, yeah, and there was this brief encounter with Lord Stanley's Cup in 2004 too. I can't dismiss that event. Tack on events that are forthcoming as mentioned above - the Frozen Four and the RNC Convention - and you know the town can deal with the over-glorified executive event.
I was at last year's NHL Draft in Los Angeles. It was convenient in that everything you needed was near the actual event: The media and executive hotels were part of the LA Live complex, as is Staples Center. Throw in the aspect that you were in the epicenter of the glitz and glamor of the world, with Hollywood being but a subway ride away (yes, LA has subways) and you had not just a convenient event for the media, but also one for the fans.
Tampa's got a lot to offer, of course (minus the mass transportation options for visitors): The sun, the beach, golf courses a-plenty, entertainment venues (both legit and seedy), theme parks, nightlife. It's no LA Live, but Channelside Bay Plaza (and even Centro Ybor) are two nearby entertainment venues for tourists and fan events.
Time would be tight for the NHL - especially if the Bolts do much in the 2012 playoffs, to convert and revert Times Palace. The RNC would also be breathing down the league's neck due to the fact the Forum will be under their control for almost 2 months starting on July 15.
But that still gives the NHL plenty of time to put together and pull apart one of its marquee summer shows.
From Twitter conversation last night, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune revealed the Bolts have in fact bid on future NHL Drafts and All-Star games. Just if and when the events are awarded to Tampa remains unknown.
We probably won't know the location of the 2012 NHL draft until Friday (at earliest), but wouldn't it be cool to land the event here?