| Comerica Park, the summer home of the Detroit Tigers, will be
transformed into a winter wonderland and the site of the Alumni
Showdown on New Year's Eve.
(Photo by Andrea Nelson/Detroit Red Wings)
DETROIT – There’s no such thing as too much hockey.
The Red Wings are setting out to prove that theory is true with an once-in-a-lifetime experience at the 2014 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival, a 15-day celebration of hockey leading up to the NHL Winter Classic, which fans won’t want to miss.
“If you’re young, if you’re old, whatever you are, any place in between, there going to be tons of things to do, all hockey, all the time, for two weeks,” said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “We’re going to have some fun with it.”
The two-week festival will kick off on Dec. 16 with events and activities on ice at Comerica Park. Fans will have the unique opportunity to skate at Comerica Park on the same ice that Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni will skate on during the New Year’s Eve Alumni Showdown.
During the final five days of the festival, guests can enjoy the Coke Zero Fan Zone outside Comerica Park, a 122,000-square-foot hockey fan event that will span three heated tents and feature a variety of activities for fans of all ages. The fan zone will complement the Great Lakes Invitational, OHL games, AHL contests and the Alumni Showdown taking place inside Comerica Park from Dec. 27-31.
Inside the Coke Zero Fan Zone, fans will find a full-size street hockey rink, a full-size synthetic rink, video game challenges, photo opportunities with the Stanley Cup, alumni autograph booths, a SnowZilla toboggan slide, a bounce house, fire pit warming stations, hot cocoa and s’mores stations, over 25 local music acts, multiple Detroit restaurants and much more.
The fan zone will be free for fans with tickets to that day’s hockey games . Admission for non-ticketholders is $5 each day with tickets available for purchase at the entrance.
“The Coke Zero Fan Zone makes one of the biggest celebrations of hockey ever, even bigger,” Wilson said. “With the Hockeytown Winter Festival events taking place inside Comerica Park in Detroit, the New Year’s Day NHL Winter Classic game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and, now, the wide array of activities and entertainment at the Coke Zero Fan Zone, the Detroit Red Wings have created the most expansive celebration the sport of hockey has ever seen, spanning multiple facilities over the course of 15 days.”
And the fun won’t stop there. Legends from both the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings will take the ice at Comerica Park for a doubleheader Alumni Showdown, featuring many Hall of Famers that are itching to lace up their skates again.
“When you retire you don’t think you’re going to play another hockey game that you get real excited about but I can tell you right now, we’re excited about this,” former Red Wings center Kris Draper said. “Just talking to a lot of the teammates and I have a list here of people that are going to be around, (Ted) Lindsay, (Alex) Delvecchio, (Chris) Chelios, (Dino) Ciccarelli, (Larry) Murphy, (Chris) Osgood, (Igor) Larionov, (John) Ogrodnick, (Mickey) Redmond, all Hall of Famers and then probably the only guys that aren’t in the Hall of Fame would be the Grind Line: Draper, (Kirk) Maltby, (Darren) McCarty, (Joey) Kocur. That’s probably the only four that are gonna be playing in the one alumni game that aren’t going in to the Hall of Fame, but we’re thrilled to be back with those guys.”
The Alumni Showdown is a rare opportunity for hockey fans to watch their favorite retired players take the ice again and rekindle memories with their loved ones.
“Sports is about memories,” Wilson said. “Everybody here that’s a hockey fan has a Draper moment or they have a Kocur moment or they have a McCarty moment or they have a moment at The Joe, something they remember vividly, something they shared with their kids or something they shared with the parents, and to be able to transport yourself back for one more afternoon to watch these great players out there one more time is going to be a memorable thing for the fans.”
The 15-day celebration of hockey will begin with the Winter Festival and conclude with the highly-anticipated Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day. The outdoor hockey matchup between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs is already sold out, with an expected attendance of over 107,000.
Between the Winter Festival’s variety of activities, the lineup of games at Comerica Park and the Winter Classic, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to filter through Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor during the event’s two-week span, creating an exciting and memorable experience for all those who attend.
“One of the drivers to having all these events down here is simply to help revitalize Detroit,” Wilson said. “We’ve been down and we’ve been kicked a little bit but the renaissance that we’re undergoing right now, it’s very, very exciting.
“It’s going to be a good, positive feel for everybody who lives here and everybody who’s a hockey fan in the entire state. We’re honored to be able to host this, we’re honored that it’s turned out to be such a success, we’ve had so much support from everybody in the area.”
For more information about the Winter Festival and Winter Classic, please visit DetroitRedWings.com/2014WinterClassic.