Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch is loyal to Detroit. It’s where his teams play and his businesses are headquartered. It’s his hometown.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be shocking that Brendan Savage reports Ilitich’s first choice for the 2013 Winter Classic was Detroit’s Comerica Park rather than Ann Arbor’s Big House. Ultimately, Ilitch acknowledged the obvious economic advantages of having about 115,000 fans vs. about 40,000, so the Big House won out.
It didn’t come without some major concessions, though – namely, all the events that will happen at Comerica Park. NHL.com’s Brian Hedger discusses what’s scheduled for the weekend of the 2013 event.
That rink will play host to a number of hockey-related events over a two-week span leading up to the big game in Ann Arbor — including the NHL Alumni Showdown, the tradition-rich Great Lakes Invitational college tournament, two games between Ontario Hockey League teams, one game between the American Hockey League affiliates of Detroit and Toronto, high school and youth contests and even an open skate.
Two rinks, one common goal: To celebrate the sport of hockey at all levels and make sure that Ilitch’s beloved hometown gets its share of attention and economic advantages from hosting what’s become an NHL signature event.
In other words, everyone wins – including the city of Detroit.
According to a report from Ansar Khan of Mlive.com, the 2013 Winter Classic is all set to take place at Michigan Stadium.
Khan reports that the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will be set to take place on January 1, 2013 at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He reports that Wings owner Mike Ilitch wanted to do the game at Comerica Park in Detroit, but the chance to have over 110,000 pack the stadium for the outdoor event was too alluring for the league to turn down.
To make things more Detroit-centric, a second rink will be built at Comerica Park to host the Winter Classic alumni game and possibly the Great Lakes Invitational, an annual college hockey tournament, as well.
Khan reports that the announcement of the game will be made official in February after the Red Wings return home from a four-game road trip through Phoenix and Western Canada.
If the report is true, and there’s no reason to think it will be disproved, the league would be better off making the announcement sooner than later. This past Winter Classic wasn’t made official until the season began and many of the facets of the game were poorly kept secrets, a fact Gary Bettman acknowledged when the game was made official.
This would be the first time a Canadian team played in the Winter Classic and given Toronto’s relative proximity to Detroit and Ann Arbor, holding the game at The Big House makes a world of sense because Leafs fans will crash the border in droves to attend the game.