The National Hockey League officially announced today that the 2013 Winter Classic will drop the puck at Michigan Stadium, known by many as “The Big House.”
Original Six, Detroit Redwings and Toronto Maple Leafs will face off in the first ever outdoor winter classic to be host on such a grand stage. In 2010, Michigan Stadium also brought the hockey world the first ever outdoor Big Ten matchup between Michigan and Michigan State, referred to as the “Big Chill” game.
Why does this game matter?
First of all, the 2013 Bridgestone Winter Classic marks the first time ever a Canadian-based franchise will participate in the January 1st game. Most WC team match-ups in the past have been pretty close in proximity to one another, but this being an “international” event, proximity plays an even more important role. The two teams (Detroit and Toronto) are based only about a four hour drive from one another, a trip that any dedicated fan would easily take on. That being said, when you’re pulling from Hockeytown, USA, and what many would argue, the hockey center of the world, there shouldn’t be much trouble getting attendance.
Second point, attendance. The Winter Classic has just been given the biggest stage in North America to lay their ice and just puck around for the love of the sport and the love of the fans. 115,000 tickets will be available for the 2013 Winter Classic, which is just under 44,000 more than the record attendance at a Winter Classic in history (71,217 Penguins v Sabres, 2008).
Organizers of the event are hoping to turn this into a chance not only to throw the biggest and baddest Winter Festival Ann Arbor has ever seen, but also to go for the Guinness World Record crowd attendance. Talk about your media attention.
Third point, as if holding a major sporting event in a historic and humongous venue wasn’t enough, think of the press that will generate for the NHL. International Original Six rivals, HUGE historic venue, world record attendance(?), and a Winter Festival revved up just for this one game! Hockey lovers have got to be loving this. Larger stage, more hype, bigger audience = better for hockey.
We can’t get snarky here and pretend that hockey is as big a deal to other sports fans as it is to us. The potential for fantastic media coverage and hockey exposure this event holds is fan-freakin-tastic. I’m only sad I have to wait a year for it, and considering that Detroit is playing… that is saying A LOT.