Blackhawks, Red Wings at Wrigley Field Makes Sense

Steve JankowskiAnalyst IMay 29, 2008

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago is reporting that the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings will play a game at Wrigley Field this January.

This comes after the NHL scrapped plans to host a game at Yankee Stadium due to logistical issues. 

An announcement could come as early as today, but the more likely scenario is having Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito announce the news when they are guest conductors at Wrigley Field Friday night.

For the Blackhawks, this will mark a tremendous opportunity to showcase their new-look organization to a national TV audience at one of sports most recognizable venues. 

It also will allow the club to energize its long-dormant fan base, and introduce a new generation of fans to Blackhawks hockey.

The Red Wings are the most logical opponent for the Blackhawks, given the long-standing and heated rivalry between the clubs, and the success of the Wings this post-season allows the NHL another selling point to the casual fan.

The NHL stands to gain a lot from an outdoor match-up between these two Original Six rivals.

Chicago is the third largest media market in the country, and the Red Wings boast one of the largest and most devoted fan bases in the league.

The game won't set attendance records at any outdoor venue in Chicago, let alone 38,000 seat Wrigley Field. 

Soldier Field has also been discussed as a possible venue for the game, and in some ways makes more sense as the host venue.

For one, Soldier Field can hold about 20,000 more fans than Wrigley Field can.  A game of this magnitude would surely sell out, and those extra 20,000 fans would mean untold extra dollars in the coffers of the NHL and the two teams.

Secondly, parking at Wrigley Field is scarce at best during the summer, but with winter parking restrictions, parking near Wrigley could be nightmarish, especially if there's a lot of snow on the ground.

Soldier Field, on the other hand, has parking garages built underneath the stadium, as well as around the stadium.

Despite this, it appears Blackhawks President John McDonough is doing his former organization a favor by putting the game in Wrigley.

And despite the 20,000 or so fewer fans, the game could be a ratings bonanza for the league.

It sure helps the Blackhawks case for hosting such an event that the team on the ice is more competitive than in years' past.

Regardless of where the game is played, it should be a very special day in Chicago. Two Original Six teams will battle in Chicago's notorious winter weather. 

I can only hope I'm in attendance for this occasion.