Source: 2nd rink proposed for Classic
The NHL has all but finalized details to hold next year's Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, while continuing negotiations for a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit where all ancillary events would be held, a source told ESPN.com Friday.
The league would like to have the matter settled by the All-Star break in late January, according to the source.
The Jan. 1 game between the Original Six rivals would be played at the University of Michigan's "Big House," which, at 110,000-plus seats, is the largest college football stadium in the country. Ann Arbor is about 43 miles west of Detroit.
But cognizant of the need to include the City of Detroit in the process, the league would like to build a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit, probably at Comerica Park, the home of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers.
The negotiations between the league, the City of Ann Arbor and the Red Wings are not completed. There is a definite sensitivity to making sure Detroit isn't left out in the cold, as it were, given the long-time loyalty shown the beleaguered city by the Ilitch family, which owns both the Red Wings and Tigers.
The source also said next year's Winter Classic will include new events that also would be held in downtown Detroit.
This year's Winter Classic at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park featured an alumni game that drew 45,000 fans. An American Hockey League game also was sold out at the ballpark, although ticket sales for those two games were bundled with the sale of tickets to the main Winter Classic game.
The ice surface at Citizens Bank Park also was used for other hockey and public skating events over the New Year's holiday. A similar plan is being considered for Detroit, given the NHL's desire to market the event as a celebration of the sport.
The annual Great Lakes Invitational, a college tournament that features Michigan State, Michigan and other top college invitees, is among the events being considered for the downtown rink. That tournament is usually held at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings' permanent home, in late December.
Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.
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