Giants Todd Kelman talks to IIHA’s Martin Grant
In less than eight days time the NHL experience will come to the Emerald Isle. Yes, that’s right, the highest level of ice hockey in the world is coming to Ireland and for one day only.
The world phenomenon Boston Bruins will face off against a talented Belfast Giants Select at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on Saturday 2nd October. The likes of star forwards Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder and Shawn Thornton along with the whole of the Bruins army will land into Dublin Airport in just a few days time and are said to be ‘excited’ about the visit to Ireland.
In an exclusive interview this week for www.iiha.org with journalist and the Irish Ice Hockey Associations’ Editor, Martin Grant, Giants’ General Manager Todd Kelman revealed that he is expecting the big game to be a sell out and is encouraging all Irish ice hockey fans to make the short journey up to Belfast for this historic event.
‘We have sold around 4300 to 4500 tickets and the Odyssey holds about 5,600 for ice hockey, so we are getting down to our last 1,000 tickets now’ said Todd, ‘Because the Bruins are one of the best teams in the world, and to have the NHL in your backyard, the Irish fans’ backyard, there is no reason better than to see it here, live in person’ he added.
When asked is the hard work coming to an end, he said ‘No, the real work is just beginning, up to this point it has been around PR and marketing and now it gets into operations and logistics of the event. I thought of this match last season when we played in Edinburgh against the two AHL teams. I wanted to do something similar but just on a bigger scale’.
Todd, who says there is a big Bruins group travelling to Belfast and is expecting a couple of hundred to watch the match, says there is a great buzz around Belfast ahead of the match.
‘The ice hockey fans are very excited and the whole city has heard about the big game. It really has caught everyone’s attention up here, or at least it feels that way. We have had alot of interest from people that don’t normally come to games because they have heard of the Bruins or have seen them on TV’ Kelman said, ‘I think this has to be the highlight of the decade for the Giants. To have an NHL team come play us here in Belfast is a once in a lifetime event for sports fans’.
Although the Bruins visit will be an historic sport event, Kelman says economies both north and south of the border will generate revenue. He said ‘Think of it this way. If the average person spends €£100 or €£400 on a weekend away to a major city, then if we have a couple of thousand people travelling from UK or the USA to Belfast, then the impact on tourism, hotels, restaurants, etc will be massive’.
Since the announcement of the Bruins visit a number of months ago, Todd says there has been a hugh interest expressed from press, especially from American press but also from North and South.
The superstars of the game, who will arrive into the capital city, Dublin, in just a few days time, have a tight schedule to follow, but the Bruins’ staff are also planning to give the players some time off to explore Belfast and Ireland.
When asked what he is most looking forward to come game day, he said ‘Seeing the Bruins hit the ice. I think it will be amazing to see these NHL superstars at the Odyssey Arena’.
Todd hopes that this game could open many doors for the future ahead. He said ‘If this goes well, I would hope the NHL put us on their radar for hosting a season opener like Prague is doing this year, but we won’t worry about that for a couple years, we just want to give them a good show this time around and make sure they enjoy themselves’.
The Giants GM concluded by saying ‘This is as big a game as Ireland will ever see. The Boston Bruins are one of the best teams in the world, and are filled with global superstars, top athletes at their profession. This is our chance to show the world that we can host major events like this and that we can make them a success’.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the game and can be purchased from the Odyssey Arena Box Office, telephone number 028 9073 9074, or from Ticketmaster by calling 0844 2774455 or by logging onto www.ticketmaster.ie.