Some people are concerned that fans traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich., for this year’s Winter Classic won’t make it after several inches of snow struck the area on New Year’s Eve.
Others want to remind those people that, while many of the fans might be traveling from afar, that “afar” is Canada, where hockey enthusiasts have been known to shovel out quickly a time or two.
Hockey diehards were already tailgating early Wednesday morning, in fact, ahead of the 1 p.m. start of the 2014 Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
About 105,500 tickets have reportedly been sold for the event at Michigan University’s Big House, which could set a hockey record if game attendance matches the sellout — a number that depends on an estimated 40,000 fans traversing from Ontario, according to NHL chief operating officer John Collins, via thescore.com.
Winter Classic crews were on the ice Wednesday morning to remove snow that fell the night before.
Collins said the game is expected to start on time, with workers ready to clear the ice of snow dustings when needed. The 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was delayed until 8 p.m. because of rain.
“A little bit of snow just adds to the romance of the game,” he said.
The Winter Classic has been held at several storied arenas and parks since its inception in 2008, but none can rival the size of the Big House, one of the largest stadiums in sports. In comparison, the typical NHL arena holds about 20,000 fans a game.