Blogs > The Back Page

The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Winter Classic logo neglects Red Wings' Detroit roots — just like the game itself

While the players and owners are hard at work trying to save the upcoming NHL season, the Detroit Red Wings' disillusioned Instagram operator was busy hyping fans for the upcoming Winter Classic.
The Red Wings "leaked" the logo for the 2013 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, which, according to features the same font as the 2009 event at Wrigley Field, which was the last time the Original Six franchise partook in New Year's Day festivities.
What's different about this year's logo is the fact the previous versions at least featured a characteristic of the host city. The famed Wrigley Field marquee appeared in 2009, while prominent landmarks and features of Pittsburgh, Boston and Philadelphia have been incorporated in previous versions. 
What's more, the main feature of the logo is the Big House. Not exactly synonymous with Downtown Detroit. Granted, the big game will be played in Ann Arbor, some 45 minutes from Detroit, but the logo designers have abandoned the Detroit skyline entirely.
The game was already moved more than 40 miles away from the friendly confines of Comerica Park, where many of the associated events, including the alumni game, are being held. Then, to strip the main logo of any Detroit reference whatsoever?
Well, it remains to be seen if the two most important entities in this game, players and the fine folks who sign their paychecks, even allow an NHL season to take place. Recently, Crain's Detroit reported the Winter Classic could be cancelled up to the day of the game if a potential lockout isn't resolved. Sept. 15 is the planned deadline to make an agreement. The two sides have played this game of chicken as recently as 2005, when the entire 2004-05 season was scrapped because of a disagreement. So don't be surprised if fans are again caught in the middle.
By the way, the Winter Classic is expected to have a $75 million impact on Southeast Michigan, according to Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog. 
Michigan athletic director David Brandon recently said he hoped the NHL would again select Red Wings to host the game. Presumably, the NHL would again be willing to fork over the reported $3 million it would be paying to rent the Big House rather than Comerica Park.
Remember, hockey can also be played inside Ford Field. The venue hosted the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four and set attendance records with 37,592, which I highly doubt was full capacity at a place that has a reported basketball capacity of nearly 80,000. And that college hockey event couldn't match 2010's Big Chill at Michigan Stadium (113,411), it saw nearly as many fans as the Winter Classic at Fenway Park (38,112) earlier that year. 
Don't forget, Winter Classic attendance has fallen off precipitously after a 71,217 crowd in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The average attendance since the inaugural event has been 48,502, with a high of 68,111 at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field in 2011.
The NHL shunned the CoPa (and Ford Field) in Downtown Detroit, which has a baseball capacity of 41,255 and is also owned by the proprietor of one of the Original Six franchises participating in the game, for a chance at infamy in Ann Arbor.
And it will likely be the best-attended Winter Classic, but is that worth abandoning Detroit — a loyal NHL outpost through thick and very thin ice.
It's a sad indictment of the loyalty stirring inside Original Six fans, that if this season and Winter Classic fall through, the NHL can expect another 100,000 or more fans at Michigan Stadium Jan. 1, 2014. What it should really do in the case of a lockout this season, is move the event to Detroit.
Just remember, wherever and whenever the next Bridgestone Winter Classic is held, it's not about tradition. It's about money — the same factor that has the upcoming NHL season in jeopardy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No It Doesnt the Big House Is The Best NCAA Stadium And The Red Wings Will Like To Play There Janurary 1st 2013

September 8, 2012 at 12:07 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home