ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said Tuesday that the League has sold a record 105,500 tickets to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The League expects to set a record for attendance at a hockey game Wednesday when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs square off at Michigan Stadium.
The current attendance record for a hockey game is 104,173, which was set at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11, 2010 for The Big Chill at the Big House. A representative from Guinness World Records will be on hand Wednesday to verify the attendance at the Winter Classic to determine if the NHL beats The Big Chill record for attendance.
The tickets sold would suggest the NHL will break the record, but Collins is not ready to say that for sure.
"One of the funny conversations we had with Dave Brandon, who is the Michigan athletic director, is he said, 'We've never rented out our facilities to a third party before, we've never sold beer, we've never allowed for commercial identification and on top of all that you're going to take my world record away," Collins told NHL.com. "He then said, 'That's OK, I'll get it back in a couple of years.'
"That was the mission going in, to get the world record, and Michigan was very supportive of that and wants us to break it so they can go get it again."
Collins said the split is roughly 60-40 between fans of the Red Wings and those coming down from Ontario to root for the Maple Leafs. He said the approximately 40,000 tickets sold in Ontario is a Winter Classic record for the visiting team.
"I think Washington had 20,000 sold coming to Pittsburgh [in 2011]," Collins said. "The home team always has a lot of demand, but more and more the visiting team has always looked to leverage the opportunity."