The Red Wings wanted to stage a game at Comerica Park in the aftermath of the success of the 2001 "Cold War" game at Spartan Stadium, but the plan never materialized. The talk has resurfaced again after the success of the Michigan-Michigan State outdoor game on Saturday, "The Big Chill at the Big House," which was held at Michigan Stadium.â†µ
Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano said that the previous plan was not cost prohibitive, which led to the idea failing. He's opitimistic that they can pull it off, however.â†µ
"It’s still costly, but the types of revenue you could get from it would make it worthwhile,’’ Devellano said. "We could get close to 50,000 people.’’â†µ
The Big Chill drew a reported 113,411 fans to the Big House, a record crowd for a hockey game and the stadium itself, which was opened in 1927. The Guinness Book of World Records has reported otherwise, but I'd be shocked if there wasn't at least 100,000 butts in those seats.â†µ
Devellano said dimensions at Comerica would be similar to Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, the two most recent venues to host outdoor NHL contests. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock echoed the sentiments of several fans by stating the NHL missed out this weekend when they didn't play Friday's game with the Montreal Canadiens in Ann Arbor.â†µ
"This should be a weekend combination with the NHL,’’ Babcock said. "I say this every year. The state of Michigan could do all the work for the NHL and they could just have a game here every year. To me, it’s a slam dunk. The facilities are already set up. We could have played (Friday’s) game out there. It would have been a good deal."â†µ
Having been to Comerica Park, I'm not a fan of having the game at a baseball stadium. Baseball stadiums are not set up for watching hockey games. The sight lines are just not there, especially for outfield spectators if they set the rink up in a first-to-third base configuration like Devellano stated he wants. Comerica is the logical choice financially because it's operated by the Ilitch family, but baseball fields just aren't hockey-friendly. Another event at Michigan Stadium would be much better or even Ford Field, although the latter is not an outdoor venue.