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Hockey City Classic can lead to NHL Winter Classic

12 Jul

An artists rendering of what Soldier Field will look like when it’s hosting hockey.

per the tribune-

Sam Calabrese, Bears fan, has attended three games at Soldier Field. But Sam Calabrese, hockey player, never peered down at the green expanse of grass and imagined a full-sized rink dropped in the middle.

That is until Wednesday, when Calabrese took part in the official announcement of the Feb. 17 Hockey City Classic doubleheader. The Park Ridge native and Notre Dame defenseman walked around on sod while marveling at the idea of standing on thin ice seven months from now.

“It’s every kid’s dream,” Calabrese said. “I always wondered what it would be like to be a Bears player running out, but never a hockey player. To get that opportunity in Chicago, it’s going to be unbelievable.”

The details unfurled as expected, with Notre Dame set to face Miami (Ohio) and Minnesota playing Wisconsin in the first hockey games at Soldier Field. Starting times and broadcast details are undetermined.

This, however, remains completely clear: the Chicago Park District’s vision of the Hockey City Classic smoothing the ice for an NHL Winter Classic game featuring the Blackhawks. Losing the 2009 event to Wrigley Field was a keen disappointment, and football stadiums will have hosted half of the six Winter Classic games after the 2013 edition at Michigan Stadium.

“Do I think this could pave the way to a future NHL (Winter Classic)? I certainly think so,” Park District general superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly said. “I think we’re going to pack this place. I think this, at least for one day, will rival a Bears game. I could easily see 57,000, 62,000 people in this stadium going nuts.”

Two weeks of public events will precede the doubleheader, including two days of free public skating. For Soldier Field turf aficionados, yes, the ice sheet will kill the grass beneath it. But a March re-sodding is already in the budget.

The three Illinois natives on hand Wednesday spared no excitement. Miami defenseman Steven Spinell of Vernon Hills heard rumblings of a Soldier Field game last winter while the RedHawks were in northern Michigan and asked his coach if they were true. He got a knowing smirk in reply.

“When I heard rumors last year of this thing happening, I was like, ‘That would be the coolest thing ever,’ ” Spinell said.

Maybe eclipsed only by playing an NHL game on NFL turf in the future.

“We are built for winter sports, so we have the proper facilities, we have the proper heating systems, we have the necessary capacity for hockey,” Kelly said. “I’d put us up against anybody in the country — one, as a hockey town; two, as the proper venue for hockey in Chicago.”


‘HBO 24/7′ returning for Season 3 with Red Wings and Maple Leafs

2 May

According to Puck Daddy everyone’s favorite reality based hockey show will return for a third season.

NHL COO John Collins confirmed that the show will be back but indicated that a formal announcement is coming.

He also indicated that there will be a little more input from the NHL but promised that the viewers would not notice.  We should expect HBO cameras to have the same access as before.

Another change is that a Canadian network will join in on the fun and broadcast these episodes in the Great White North.

“We’re going to have another partner to announce, who will take the series in Canada,” Collins said. “I think this is one of the benefits of having Toronto in the game. They’re paying attention to this in ways that, frankly, they haven’t previously in the market up there.”

If you’ve never seen it then you are missing out on some great tv.  HBO does a superb job of going behind the scenes and making you feel like you are personally behind the scenes and in the players lives.


2013 Winter Classic

9 Feb

The Big House

From Yahoo:

The NHL has issued a press release announcing one press conference will take place at 10:30 a.m. ET at Comerica Park and one at 1:15 p.m. ET at Michigan Stadium on Thursday.)

This morning, University of Michigan Regents approved the leasing of the Big House to the NHL for a cool $3 million this morning, allowing the league to do several things not normally done inside the stadium.

From the Detroit News:

A liquor license would be obtained — liquor is not served on campus at Michigan — and the NHL will have advertising and other sponsorship agreements throughout the stadium. There is no advertising at Michigan Stadium for football games.

To satisfy Red Wings owner Mike Illitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Park, the numerous events that now take place in a Winter Classic host city won’t all take place at Michigan Stadium. As the NHL goes for a record attendance number at the Big House, Illitch will see his baseball stadium get plenty of action with a rink of its own.

Via Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily:

Comerica Park will host an American Hockey League game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, the minor league affiliates of the Wings and Leafs.

It will also be the site of the Great Lakes Invitational, along with two Ontario Hockey League games and numerous high school and youth games.

Michigan and Michigan State will be two of the GLI teams. Three OHL teams — the Plymouth Whalers, Saginaw Spirit and Windsor Spitfires — have already been confirmed.

Comerica could also host the alumni game between the Wings and Leafs.

Jim Parker of the Windsor Star reports that the London Knights will be the fourth OHL team playing in the outdoor junior game

This is a no brainer as the NHL looks to break the all time attendance record.  The Wings have a big following and no team in the NHL has a bigger fan base then “Leaf Nation”

From ESPN:

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said Wednesday a contract for the game has not been finalized, but the approval of the Board of Regents gives the university the go-ahead.

The NHL is offering to pay $3 million to the university for the licensing of the stadium, and the university would give the NHL use of Michigan Stadium from Dec. 1, 2012 until mid-January 2013 — including time for all potential set-up and breakdown scenarios.

“This whole process has been far more complicated than I ever would have dreamed possible,” Brandon said.

Part of the challenges, Brandon said, are working on the licensing as well as the liquor license. Brandon said the liquor license would be handled by the university, using one of its 12 one-day liquor licenses given by the state.

By leasing the stadium to the NHL, Michigan gives up control of ticketing and parking. The only thing Michigan likely will have control over is game operations, on which the university will work with the NHL.

Brandon said the NHL, through its charitable foundation, also will give “significant contributions” to fund student scholarships at the university.

Brandon said Ann Arbor and the surrounding area benefit economically from a regular football weekend to the tune of $14 million. This, he said, could top it.

“This, I actually would suggest, would be greater because I think we’ll bring in more of a national crowd for this,” he said. “The fact that many people will be traveling in for New Year’s Eve and spending New Year’s Eve in the surrounding area will be significant.”

Michigan has experience both playing in and hosting a giant outdoor hockey spectacle.

In 2001, Michigan State hosted Michigan in an outdoor hockey game at the Spartans’ football stadium in front of 74,544 people. Then, “The Big Chill” game, against Michigan State on Dec. 11, 2010, was attended by 104,173, a Guinness Book of World Records mark.

Miller, who played at Michigan State, recalled watching his brother Ryan play in the 2001 game for the Spartans.

“I was a spectator for that one, and that was a lot of fun to be a part of,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing to play in front of 110,000 people, and the way they pack the people in there, it’s going to be really fun.”

TTS is  thinking that over half the crowd will make the short drive from Ontario.  The Leafs have yet to play in a Winter or Heritage Classic.  Plus, this might be an easier way for Leaf fans to get tickets to a game.  The Leafs are like the Chicago Cubs of Hockey.  Doesn’t matter how bad you suck or how long you go without winning…the fans will fill the seats and say “hey i have a wallet full of cash how can i give it to you?”