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People & Culture

Prepping for the NHL Winter Classic

The lowdown on the big outdoor game

  • Oct 31, 2013
  • 548 words
  • 3 minutes
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TAKE TWO LEGENDARY TEAMS, one of America’s greatest stadiums, add more than 100,000 people, mix in some New Year’s Day cold weather, and what do you get? Hockey heaven, of course.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings are set to face off in the National Hockey League’s sixth annual Winter Classic on Jan. 1, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s the lowdown on prepping for the big game and other outdoor hockey events in 2014.

They’re going fast, so get ’em while you can. Leafs and Red Wings season pass holders can get tickets for $89 to $279. Don’t have season’s tickets? Then take your chances with online ticket resellers (ebay, stubhub) or a scalper. Websites such as are selling ticket, hotel and hospitality packages for approximately $459 to $2,337. For more information, visit

Ann Arbor is an hour and 15-minute drive from Lansing’s airport, and a 30-minute drive from Detroit’s airport. Driving from Toronto? Expect about a five-hour trip, plus border-crossing time.

Game-day accommodations in Ann Arbor should be booked now. Aim to stay in one of the many hotels downtown, a short walk from the stadium.

Food and Drink
Packard, State and Liberty streets are good bets for nourishment. Try Biercamp for artisanal sausages and beer brewed in-house, Bill’s Beer Garden for a great selection of craft beers (bring your food in from the adjacent food-cart courtyard) and Arbor Brewing Company for custom-made burgers and still more excellent local beer.

Yes, yes, you’re a hardy Canadian inured to winter’s chill. Still, while Ann Arbor in January is relatively mild (averaging between 0 and -8 C), you’ll be standing outside for about three hours, so bundle up.

Other events
During the week leading up to the headline event, downtown Detroit’s Comerica Park will host nine outdoor games as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival. These include matchups between Michigan college teams, an Ontario Hockey League doubleheader, an American Hockey League game and two Leafs versus Red Wings alumni games. The NHL has scheduled five other outdoor games for the 2013-2014 season, including the all-Canadian Heritage Classic in Vancouver.

Anaheim vs. Los Angeles Jan. 25, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
New Jersey vs. New York Rangers Jan. 26, Yankee Stadium, New York
New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers Jan. 29, Yankee Stadium, New York
Pittsburgh vs. Chicago March 1, Soldier Field, Chicago
Ottawa vs. Vancouver March 2, BC Place, Vancouver


• The game will mark the first time Toronto has played in a Winter Classic. With the NHL’s recent realignment, the Leafs are now division rivals with the Red Wings, making the two points up for grabs all the more important.

• Michigan Stadium, constructed in 1927, is known as the “Big House” for a reason — it holds 109,901. That one extra seat is a memorial to former Michigan football coach Fritz Crisler.

• The current world-record for attendance at an outdoor hockey game is 104,173, which was set at Michigan Stadium in 2010, at a game between Michigan and Michigan State. The NHL hopes to break that record.


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