The NHL All-Star Game is returning to Canada for the first time since 2012 and Toronto businesses are expecting to see a boost at a typically quiet time of year.

This weekend, the NHL’s biggest stars will be in Toronto for the annual NHL All-Star Game on Saturday.

Specialized events are spread throughout the city to mark the occasion, including pop-up shops, events at local bars and outdoor hockey festivals, set to run Thursday through Sunday.

The weekend has businesses near Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs, excited.

“Major sporting events like this are obviously very important to the local businesses, especially in the winter,” Tim Kocur, executive director of the Toronto Waterfront BIA, told in a phone interview.

“It's not that busy on the waterfront compared to the summer and I'm sure throughout downtown it's not as busy in the winter as in the summer when the weather is nicer.”

The Waterfront BIA represents all businesses south of the Gardener Expressway, about a block south of Scotiabank Arena at its closest point.

Restaurants in the area “pay very close attention to the sport schedules,” Kocur said.

“One restaurant actually told me that they can pretty accurately predict how busy they're going to be based on the temperature and based on whether or not there's a Blue Jays or at Leafs game.”

Event roster

The NHL is hosting a fan fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre throughout the weekend that’s expected to feature player speaking events, autograph signings, a circus show and mascot competitions.

“The All-Star Game is a great event," former NHLer Shayne Corson told  "You have the greatest players in the world come here to showcase their talent, and for Toronto to be hosting that, it’s incredible for the city and the fans.”

There’s also an e-sports event at the Hockey Hall of Fame, a women’s hockey showcase and a Youth Hockey Jamboree at the St. Michael's College School Arena.

Meanwhile, the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a group of current and former NHL players working to eradicate racism from the sport, is hosting its inaugural “WinterFest” on Saturday at Trinity Bellwoods Park. The event will feature youth hockey, food trucks and a celebrity game. 

Business impact

Big sporting events like the NHL All-Star Game have the ability to attract big business.

When Toronto hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2016, estimates had the festivities bringing in between $80 and $100 million for the local economy. 

The 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa, the last time the NHL brought its stars to Canada for the annual event, raked in $9.5 million for Ottawa businesses, according to Senators Sports & Entertainment. 

“If you have a big event, we certainly appreciate (it),” Kocur said. “There's going to be some trickle-down traffic from people exploring the neighbourhood around the All-Star game, for sure.”