We are just a few hours away from the 2012 NHL Winter Classic brought to us by Bridgestone yet before the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers even take the ice today people are already wondering: Will next years Winter Classic take place in Detroit?
Without official word from the NHL as to where the next outdoor event will take place it leaves speculation; but as of writing time the only teams to have been in the Winter Classic and not host are the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals were just in the Winter Classic last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins and part of the first ever HBO 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic; without a huge overhaul on players between then and now the draw to fans may not be as high as going with a team that has not yet been on HBO.
Enter the Red Wings. An Original Six franchise that has the most Stanley Cups (11) of the American teams (only the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have more Stanley Cup wins).
Detroit is a city of prevalence and looking into the face of adversity and their hockey team is no different. Year after year the Red Wings are listed by media and fans a like as being “too old” to win. In the final year of contracts are Captain Nicklas Lidstrom and fellow Swede Tomas Holmstrom; both life long Red Wings that were part of all four Stanley Cup championships (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) would not be guaranteed fixtures on the team for next season but all three assistant captains are locked up long term: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niklas Kronwall.
Pavel Datsyuk may just become a star of 24/7 much like fellow countryman Ilya Bryzgalov has this season:
What else do you expect from a player that chose his own goal song to be LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem .
Other members of the team that baring a trade would be on next seasons team include: Valtteri Filppula, Johan “Mule” Franzen, Jimmy Howard, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Dan Cleary, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton, and Jan Mursak.
With the history of hockey in Detroit, including the infamous throwing of the octopi, and personalities almost locked for HBO’s 24/7 where will the game take place? Football in Detroit in indoors as the Detroit Lions play at Ford Field. Right next door to Ford Field downtown is Comerica Park – where baseball lives in the Motor City.
Comerica Park replaced Tigers Stadium in 2000 when Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (sound familiar? It should to hockey fans as he and his wife and family are also the owners of the Detroit Red Wings) moved team in to the new stadium.
Being situated downtown Comerica Park has a capacity of 41,255 and would showcase the downtown area of Detroit that is often made to look like scenes from the movie The Crow by the media.
It is that same perception of Detroit that might make Comerica a hard location to swallow for those at NBC and HBO (though Major League Baseball used the site for the 2005 All-Star Game and the National Football League used Ford Field for Super Bowl XL in 2006).
So where else could they host the outdoor game?
Enter Michigan Stadium.
Home of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team The Big House as it is called by locals is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Big House football attendance often grows over the official capacity of 109,901 and set a record on December 11, 2010 as the U of M ice hockey team hosted state rivals Michigan State Spartans in an outdoor game where 114,804 people attended.
The Big Chill at the Big House is the current World Record for not only Michigan Stadium but for attendance as a hockey game.
Now there is a marketing campaign the NHL, HBO, and NBC can all get behind.
Last year the Red Wings started the Hockeytown: No Limits campaign:
Is the next limit set to be broken by those Hockeytown faithful to be the world record?
It has been three years since the Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field with 40,818 in attendance – is record breaking outdoor hockey coming to back Hockeytown?
The wait is on.