Blog Entry

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

Posted on: February 9, 2012 10:39 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:26 pm

By Brian Stubits

The NHL made it all officially official on Thursday in Detroit. The Winter Classic will be held at the Big House in Ann Arbor against the Maple Leafs and Red Wings next New Year's Day.

"It's Hockeytown against the center of the hockey universe" Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke joked at the news conference.

It had been in the works for a while. The talk of the press box at the Winter Classic in Philly just over a month ago was that Detroit was going to be hosting the game. Since then everything has come into focus and the NHL just clarified (and confirmed) it all.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that there will be about 115,000 tickets available for the game, and assuming they sell them all (they will) it will break the record for a hockey audience, also achieved at Michigan Stadium when University of Michigan played Michigan State.

"I'm all pshyced, I want to get my skates!" Red Wings owner Mike Illitch said. "But I can't skate."

In addition to the big game, downtown Detroit will be hosting events all week with the Hockeytown Winter Festival including the Alumni Game at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The rink in Detroit will be very busy as college and OHL games will also be held there.

In making the announcement, Bettman estimated that the events in Detroit itself will bring 150,000-200,000 fans to the city for all the events.

It will prove to be the busiest Winter Classic held to date, hands down. Not only will there be significantly more action on the rinks, but there will be two rinks at two stadiums. That will be a lot of work. But the good news is that nothing should affect the ice for the NHL game as Ann Arbor will only host the main event.

Personally, I think it's a fantastic idea, even if it will make life a little tough on the behind-the-scenes people and those covering the events, shuffling back and forth between the cities.

Hockeytown hosting the best week of outdoor hockey? Yes, please!

More from Eye on Hockey

Ranking the Winter Classic venues
Alumni Game possibilities

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Oct 1, 2010
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:25 am

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

I am glad that Ann Arbour is getting the Game.As a Flyers fan even I said that it should be spread around the league.Not just Philly and Pittsburgh. Each team should have a chance to host and play in the game.I think this was a good call by the league.

Since: Feb 9, 2012
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:22 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:21 am

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

Brain Burke wasn't "joking."  He meant his descriptions of both cities.  This might actually draw a lot of Maple Leaf fans, too.  The stadium is only about 40 miles from the Ambassador Bridge and whatever they call the tunnel.  I guess, on the days before and after, a new generation of Ann Arbor food and beverage servers are about to get introduced to Canadians and their tendency to keep a table for an hour or longer, ask for plenty of service "extras," and then tip 5 percent.  

Since: Feb 5, 2012
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:20 am

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

I'm glad that the Winter Classic is adding the extra events and making hockey much more of a spectacle.  I have to say I'm disappointed that the league is once again using a team that has already had a classic.  I understand that the Big House will host record numbers of fans but why not tap some of the franchises that are less publicized by the NHL to build markets?  What about the St. Louis Blues or Nashville Predators, both teams having great seasons, hosted by the Minnesota Wild, arguably one of the best teams in the league right now and certainly an environment suited for outdoor hockey?  If they hadn't already had one of their own, I'd love to see the Herb Brooks Miracle Classic, Boston vs Minnesota but let's put that on hold until a few more teams get their chance in the spotlight.  How many times do we need to watch the Flyers, Wings, Caps, Bruins, and Pens who already get a HUGE amount of coverage throughout the season (and I'm a Pens fan) before some of the less publicized teams are thrown a bone?

Since: Feb 9, 2012
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:14 am

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

SWEEEET! *sigh* the only thing better than hockey in the big house...would be a Tye Domi and Bobby Probert match-up in the big house!

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:10 am

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

I am excited to see the events going down at Comerica Park, with the college, AHL, OHL, high school and youth games. I like what Brian Burke just said. "It's Hockeytown vs the center of the hockey universe!!" And I love Detroit vs Toronto. This is the rivalry that makes me wish for realignment. While I was disappointed that the game is to be played at The Big House instead of keeping the game in Detroit, I like that Comerica Park will be utilized for the Winter Festival preceeding the Classic. Question though. Does making the announcement this early make Detroit and Toronto destination spots for free agents, knowing that the game and the 24 / 7 show will be on the horizon?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or