Announcing what they called an upcoming event that will “forever change” metro Detroit’s landscape, NHL and Detroit Red Wings officials confirmed the worst-kept secret in Detroit sports Thursday: the 2013 Winter Classic will be held at Ann Arbor’s Big House.
The Red Wings will face off there against the Toronto Maple Leafs, two members of the Original Six.
Hockey fans, you’re not dreaming: It will be a hockey game under the open skies at the largest stadium in the United States.
“This Winter Classic should be the biggest one ever because Detroit is Hockeytown,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
In addition to the 120,000 people who will be able to see the game in Ann Arbor, the event will encompass the city of Detroit as well, Bettman said. Downtown activites in and around Comerica Park tied to the Winter Classic will include youth games, open skating, the Alumni Showdown Game and more — and they’re expected to bring up to 200,000 people to downtown Detroit during the Winter Classic.
“There will be more opportunities than ever before for people to connect with Winter Classic,” Bettman said. “Our presence in Detroit will be unmistakeable.”
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch echoed that sentiment.
“This community deserves a great event like this,” Ilitch said, adding it will provide a tremendous positive impact on the region. “We’re committed to making this the best NHL Winter Classic ever. I’m all fired up.”
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he was “taking his hat off” to the Ilitch family.
“The things you’re doing for the city of Detroit are things we are very appreciative of,” Bing said, adding his administration will do everything possible to support the event.