The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/26/13 at 11:13 AM ET
This morning, Sportsnet's Brett Popplewell has penned an article discussing the disconnect between the city of Detroit's financial straits and its fans' passion for the city's sports team (again, it should not be ignored that appxorimately one in every six Southeastern Michiganders acutally lives within the City's limits), the Denver Post's Adrian Dater has suggested that it's in fact the Mile High City that will serve as the "ultimate" location for outdoor hockey, Leafs alums Todd Warriner and Brad May have given interviews about playing for the Leafs' Alums during the Alumni Showdown...
And as the four teams taking part in the Great Lakes Invitational prepare to kick off the Hockeytown Winter Festival tomorrow with a pair of GLI games at Comerica Park tomorrow (Fox Sports Detroit will air all GLI games, the Griffins-Marlies game on the 30th and the Alumni Showdowns: tomorrow's games pit Michigan Tech vs. Michigan State at 3:30 and Western Michigan vs. Michigan at 7)
Time Magazine's Tim Newcomb spoke with NHL VP of events Don Renzulli about the Winter Classic's attempts to generate wider enthusiasm about and support for the game among both dedicated hockey fans and "newbies" who are attending the events for experience's sake:
How do you make an NHL event more than just a hockey game?
Look at what we are doing with outdoor games; you can do so much more than in a normal arena. We can do anthems, big flags and small kids skating on auxiliary ice. We can bring in entertainment pre-game and during intermissions. We are able to integrate more than just sport, but an entertainment aspect similar to a Super Bowl.
Can you make the games appeal to people who aren’t hockey fans?
The whole concept behind the outdoor games is that it is how a lot of us learned to skate, outside on ice. We recreated that and set up a small rink that we put little kids on. We are getting the people that are coming to tailgate, like at a football game. We have a spectator plaza that introduces fans to our partners’ products. If they have never taken a slapshot in their life, we put a stick in their hand. We put live music out there. When you get inside you see more of a spectacle than just a regular game. If you are not a big fan, we get you happy by seeing a band or listening to music.
Will outdoor games continue to grow?
I think it is what the fans have asked for. We did one game in ’08 and once that caught on teams wanted to participate. We want to hit as many markets as we can. We can hit all the cold-weather cities and jumping out to L.A. will give us a better understanding of how many markets we can take the games to.
How do these outdoor games compare to running a Super Bowl?
They are smaller, but there is overlap. The Super Bowl is a mammoth event, but this continues to get bigger each year. A lot of things we are doing exactly the same as we did on a Super Bowl. The biggest misconception is the NFL does all those events, but they put on the game and have a few parties. All the other things surrounding the game are their partners, such as Anheuser-Busch doing a number of concerts. That just adds to the largeness of the Super Bowl. (The NHL’s) partners are starting to get engaged. The spectator plaza is growing, there will be over 700 at a pregame party and the Zac Brown Band is performing in Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 31 [Detroit is 40 miles from Ann Arbor]. It is not exactly replicating what a Super Bowl is, but we are building our own event.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.