The NHL finally changed this with the announcement that the marquee event would be coming to Detroit (and Ann Arbor).
So what does the Winter Classic finally coming to Detroit mean? The event will become a two-week festival for the area.
Detroit is a city that continually takes a public relations beating and has so for decades now. While other cities have many of the same issues that Detroit does, Detroit is often used as the bad example.
Events such as this help spotlight the good in Detroit and the potential that is has. In recent years, Detroit has hosted the MLB All-Star Game, the Super Bowl and the Final Four. Each of which went off with great success.
In fact, the success of the Detroit Super Bowl has opened the door for other cold-weather cities to get into the Super Bowl lineup.
With the magnitude of the Winter Classic, Detroit will be able to host a bigger and better event.
While the actual NHL game will be held in Ann Arbor, it is still the Detroit metropolitan area. There will be a rink built at Comerica Park in Detroit that will host a variety of events as well.
With alumni games, a college tournament, minor league and youth games, Detroit will be the place to be for hockey fans.
Massive sporting events such as this are huge economic booms for the cities that host them. With this game including a Canadian team for the first time, there is likely to be even more interest.
Previous games in Boston and Pittsburgh show that $30 million is a reasonable number to expect. Of course, with the Big House in Ann Arbor holding over 40,000 more people than the largest Winter Classic venue so far combined with the increase in events and length of the entire event, that number should be higher.
Any boost to local businesses and the city’s tax base is a welcome event. An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 fans are expected to attend the two-week hockey festival in Detroit alone. Then another 100,000-plus for the game will be a huge boom for the local economy.
Beyond just the competition, sports are built on records. Setting, breaking or chasing them is always on the minds of fans and players. The mystique and thrill of chasing and breaking records has long been an attraction.
The whole reason for having the NHL game at the Big House in Ann Arbor instead of Comerica Park is to break the outdoor hockey attendance record. The Big House currently holds the record after the Big Chill hockey game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University saw an official mark of 104,173 watch the game.
The goal seems to be to break the 115,000 mark. The excitement and positive energy of breaking that record would be good.
The last several offseasons have seen the team and fans waiting for word from Nick Lidstrom as to if he will play another season. For the man who has already accomplished so much, will the outdoor game be enough to entice him back for another year?
If he does return for another season in order to play in the Winter Classic, then it might be the biggest benefit the game will bring
While it is difficult to see him returning just for one game, the allure of it could be just enough. He has already accomplished so much in his career that the fun and spectacle of the largest outdoor game ever might be intriguing enough to keep him playing.
As usual, Lidstrom plays everything close to the vest.
Mlive.com quoted him as saying,
"It (Winter Classic) is only one game, but it's an intriguing one," Lidstrom said. "We'll have to wait and see."
For what it's worth, he added, "I think it's going to be an unbelievable feeling to walk through that (Michigan Stadium) tunnel and play a hockey game."
Don Cherry loves all things Canada, and while that is admirable and one should expect that he should root for and promote his own country, the man goes too far.
The Red Wings have a history of being on the receiving end of his rants. They do not have enough Canadian players by his standards and even worse they have way too many of those "weak" Europeans.
We recently learned that Canadians are not even good enough to him. He blasted the Toronto Maple Leafs, blaming their woes on a lack of players from Ontario. Next he will complain that there are not enough players from a certain city or street.
You can almost hear his shtick now leading up to the game as he will sound like some overzealous wrestling announcer. His beloved Canadians invading Detroit to show the world who plays “real” hockey. I actually hope he goes nuts before the game with his rants.
Detroit would do the hockey world a favor by winning and showing how wrong he is. Not that it will faze him at all but the enjoyment of showing him up is always good.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist for the Detroit Red Wings and a writer of many other sports. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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