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How About Two Outdoor Rinks For The Next Winter Classic?

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

The NHL has all but finalized details to hold next year’s Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, while continuing negotiations for a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit where all ancillary events would be held, a source told ESPN.com Friday.

The league would like to have the matter settled by the All-Star break, according to the source.

The Jan. 1 game between the Original Six rivals would be played at the University of Michigan’s “Big House,” which, at 110,000-plus seats, is the largest college football stadium in the country. Ann Arbor is about 43 miles west of Detroit.

But cognizant of the need to include the City of Detroit in the process, the league would like to build a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit, probably at Comerica Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers.

continued

Besides other games, I could see an alumni game being played at Comerica….

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Nathan's avatar

The Detroit Red Wings should be playing this game in Detroit at Comerica Park. Am I seriously the only one that thinks this? Am I also the only person that thinks the Michigan Stadium mystique is almost pure hyperbole? And for the record, no, I’m not Michigan State or Ohio State alum that’s just trying to troll.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/13/12 at 03:17 PM ET

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Am I also the only person that thinks the Michigan Stadium mystique is almost pure hyperbole?

How so?

I think that in general a football stadium is much more appropriate a place to hold the game than a baseball stadium, and if your choice is between a stadium that will give you one of the smallest live audiences for a WC and one that will yield by far the largest, then I think the choice is clear.

Seems to me the only argument for Comerica is that the Illitches operate it, and that doesn’t seem like much of an argument to me.

I’m all for having it in Detroit, so why has Ford Field not even been brought up?  It’s a better venue than Comerica (in my opinion), it can seat up to 80,000 (according to wikipedia) which would still make it potentially the biggest WC audience and it’s would showcase downtown Detroit as well as Comerica would.

Posted by Garth on 01/13/12 at 03:38 PM ET

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This just kind of reminds me how the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh should have been at PNC Park instead of Heinz Field, but it didn’t happen simply because of the smaller amount of seats. Talk about a wasted opportunity, that game could have been a beautiful site. So, I agree with Nathan that this would be a much better sight at Comerica Park.

Posted by kk-downing on 01/13/12 at 04:06 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

First, I think it should be in Detroit. The Wings are clearly more of a “State of Michigan” team than strictly a Detroit team, but even so, the spirit of Detroit represents Michigan as a whole much better than Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is a nice city and undoubtedly has one of the better public universities in the world based there, but I don’t feel it is a true reflection of what Southeast Michigan is all about.

Second, I think bigger is worse. Hockey is played in 15k - 20k seat arenas for a reason. The surface is relatively small and the game action moves fast. I will admit, I have not been to a Winter Classic (probably never will on account of lack of dollars and lack of interest) or the “Big Chill” so I’m not sure just what the spectator experience is like watching hockey in a football stadium. But it honestly sounds pretty bad.

That said, a baseball diamond doesn’t seem better. For me it isn’t about the venue being better or worse. I think both have drawbacks. It’s about being in Detroit, and further, it is about Ilitch frankly deserving the payday that would come with having it at Comerica. He worked hard and put a lot of money into the Wings to make them relevant again, and ultimately dominant unlike any other period in their history. Ilitch owning the Wings is a high point for the Wings, and coincided with what I think is fair to say was the high point of the NHL under Gary Bettman’s tenure. The league owes Ilitch this one, IMO.

I think Ford Field is out because it is indoors. Kinda kills the “aura” of the whole thing.

As for the Michigan Stadium mystique… I’m trying to tread lightly because no doubt most Wings fans on here are also U of M fans. But I have always found the experience of watching a game there insanely overrated and often boring. The size of the place is a detriment to me. I like smaller venues. That is totally a personal opinion and I realize I’m in the very small minority on this one. I just think that the “Big House” is remarkably quiet and dull given its capacity, and frankly, a lot of the luster is built on a history that has been aggrandized by legend more so than actual on the field performance.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/13/12 at 05:14 PM ET

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I think Ford Field is out because it is indoors.

Jesus I’m dumb.  Didn’t even occur to me to think about whether or not it’s an outdoor stadium before suggesting it.

As for the Michigan Stadium mystique…

Ahh, fair enough.  I’ve never been, so I can’t judge.

In the end it doesn’t really matter to me.  I plan on finding a way to go and whether it’s at Comerica, the Big House or in someone’s backyard I’m sure it will be the highlight of my life as a sports fan.

I just think that logistically a football stadium makes more sense.  I look at the overhead shots of the Classics that have been at baseball fields and they look like about 8% of the seats have anything resembling aven a half-decent viewing angle.

Posted by Garth on 01/13/12 at 05:52 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The Detroit Red Wings should be playing this game in Detroit at Comerica Park. Am I seriously the only one that thinks this? Am I also the only person that thinks the Michigan Stadium mystique is almost pure hyperbole? And for the record, no, I’m not Michigan State or Ohio State alum that’s just trying to troll.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/13/12 at 01:17 PM ET

I’m a huge MSU fan, and to a certain extent I can see why Ann Arbor jumps out as the choice.

Truthfully though, I want the Red Wings not involved in this mess at all, period.  They’ve done one outdoors already, let someone else suffer through it and all the media circus around it.  I’ve already heard enough stupid “wind-aided rush” comments.  I don’t want it in Ann Arbor.  I don’t want it in Detroit.  I don’t want it in Lansing or Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo or Flint or Marquette or Adrian or whatever.

Let someone else be the zoo animals for the “good of the league”.  Let my team play hockey.  I’m tired of my team having to uphold something for the league.  My team does that enough through off-ice commitments, not having players that get suspended and playing clean, winning seemingly every year, travelling well to every other arena in the league, and excellent drafting and player development.

Posted by Primis on 01/13/12 at 06:07 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I’m not sure just what the spectator experience is like watching hockey in a football stadium. But it honestly sounds pretty bad.

I was about half way up the south end zone for the Big Chill. I wasn’t expecting much for the sight lines, but they were not that bad actually. The distance was farther than usual of course, but the angle wasn’t bad.  And that’s the problem I expect with a baseball stadium. With the exception of the upper levels, baseball seating is a very shallow slope and that’s awful for fast play in a confined space with tightly grouped players blocked by 3 ft walls.

As for the atmosphere, (My school was non-sports, but I’ve got friends from both UM and MSU) I’ve been to several games over the years. With the exception of the expected blow out games against division 2 schools, I find the atmosphere is pretty intense and tough to beat.

But I agree it would be a shame to leave Detroit and everything Mr I has done out of the event. A 2nd arena at CoPa could be a pretty cool compromise if you can cram a bunch of other events into the week as well like the GLI. And I’m sure it would be a huge draw to open up the 2nd rink to public skate. Campus Martius does skating in the winter, but the area is tiny and easily packed. Toss in other winter events, maybe a giant snow slide in centerfield or snowball arena, ice sculptures, chilli cookouts, public concerts, whatever it could make for an amazing time.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/13/12 at 06:13 PM ET

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The NHL just wants a huge cash grab, and wants to say they set a record for attendance at a game, despite the fact that setting a record for attendance means jack squat in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve been to the Big House dozens of times.  I even used to work concessions there in high school.  It’s neat to say it’s the biggest stadium, but, honestly, what a crappy place for seeing hockey!  You can barely see the football game when it’s being played on the field due to the sheer distance from the field if you happen to be sitting in an upper section (which over half of the tickets are, remember).

Why the hell would I not want to be able to actually SEE my favorite team play there?  I bet you wouldn’t even be able to tell which team had the puck at any given moment, and when a team scores a goal you probably would have no clue if it weren’t for an audible signal.  Seems pointless.

I would much rather it be played in Detroit, too, for the economic impact it could have on the struggling city.

Posted by BuzzFledderjohn on 01/13/12 at 06:15 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I said this in another thread too, but I was at Wrigley for the Winter Classic. Our seats would have been absolutely amazing for a baseball game there (about six rows back on the first base line).

For hockey, the angle was bad. Unless the puck had bounced six feet in the air, it was impossible to see. I loved the experience, but I had to watch most of that game on the jumbotron.

I’d do it again in a baseball stadium if that’s the decision, but a football field is better.  Ultimately, there were only probably about 15,000 seats at Wrigley which offered a good view.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/13/12 at 06:18 PM ET

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let someone else suffer through it and all the media circus around it.

It’s nice to know that you don’t like it, but all the quotes point to the idea that Detroit’s been lobbying to be included in another WC since their first appearance.

Posted by Garth on 01/13/12 at 06:26 PM ET

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@Garth: The other issue with Ford Field is that the NFL season isn’t over on New Year’s Day, so the Lions might well need it.

Posted by dzuunmod on 01/13/12 at 06:51 PM ET

Primis's avatar

It’s nice to know that you don’t like it, but all the quotes point to the idea that Detroit’s been lobbying to be included in another WC since their first appearance.

Posted by Garth on 01/13/12 at 04:26 PM ET

When it comes right down to it though, it’s 2 points and a regular season game.

@Garth: The other issue with Ford Field is that the NFL season isn’t over on New Year’s Day, so the Lions might well need it.

Posted by dzuunmod on 01/13/12 at 04:51 PM ET

This may be the funniest thing I’ve read today.

Posted by Primis on 01/13/12 at 08:23 PM ET

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I went to the Big Chill last year and thought the experience was amazing. Our tickets were 80 something rows up from one of the end-zones and I thought the view was quite good to be honest. You do feel far away, but you don’t go to an outdoor game for the sight-lines, you go for the atmosphere and the experience. As for that UofM did a spectacular job. It did seem a bit quiet sometimes but that may have been because it was almost a no contest. I would go a million times over if I had the chance.

Posted by Sp4r7an on 01/13/12 at 09:13 PM ET

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Posted by dzuunmod on 01/13/12 at 04:51 PM ET

Well, the NHL managed to make deals to have previous Winter Classics in Buffalo and Pittsburgh during the NFL regular season…

Posted by Garth on 01/14/12 at 01:16 AM ET

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