NHL Winter Classic made for Michigan

NHL Winter Classic made for Michigan

Published Jan. 17, 2012 11:09 a.m. ET

After the NHL announces that the 2013 Winter Classic is headed for Michigan, we should embrace it and shut up.  

It strikes me as odd that only in Detroit would we pitch a fit when a multimillion dollar event is dropped in our lap and we're outraged because it snubs within the city limits.

This has nothing to do with Detroit, the Red Wings or Mike Ilitch. This has everything to do with a dip in television ratings for the NHL's signature event.

Three of the last four NHL Winter Classics, the league has chosen to host the outdoor event in a ballpark. Although well received, this season was the lowest-rated Classic, with a number of 2.4.

The Wings/Blackhawks Classic in Year 2 of the outdoor game registered the highest rating, 2.9, so the league is looking for a new wrinkle to increase ratings and interest.

Enter Michigan Stadium. With a Detroit-Toronto matchup, you'll have an international event with two Original Six teams playing before a world-record crowd. Sounds like a winning proposition if you're the NHL.

Remember, this is a league event. The NHL will pay the Red Wings the equivalent (rounded up) of a sold-out home game and then it becomes the league's baby.

Critics might say, "How can you have it in Ann Arbor and not at Comerica Park, in Hockeytown U.S.A.?" 

Because the ballpark thing has been done before and the viewership is down.

By having the event at Michigan Stadium, the NHL will learn if the Winter Classic will have a long or short shelf life. In order to stay relevant, you have to sometimes reinvent yourself.  

Hockey in a football stadium as opposed to a baseball stadium might not seem all that different, but it's the best -- perhaps only -- option for the NHL.

Michigan Stadium has already hosted an outdoor game, and Michigan AD Dave Brandon recognizes that the Winter Classic will only enhance Michigan's image. Brandon will make it happen.
With the game in Ann Arbor, the league will announce that a majority of the Winter Classic festivities will be held in Detroit, including building a second rink at Comerica Park, which is a win-win situation for the Metro Detroit area.

A two-rink solution for the 2013 Winter Classic will quell any misgiving about this showcase being in Michigan.