NHL labor negotiations are threatening the 2013 Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on New Years' Day, and now it is clear that the fate of the two-week Hockeytown Winter Festival will be directly tied to the fate of the Winter Classic.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has noted that the deadline for cancellation date for the Winter Classic is coming soon – reports have previously pegged Nov. 20 as the deadline – and now Bob Duff of MSNBC is reporting that the entire Winter Festival will be cancelled if there is no Winter Classic:
#redwings confirm entire winter festival to be cancelled if Winter Classic is cancelled by #NHL lockout.— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) October 26, 2012
The Winter Classic is a huge event that has already drawn plenty of attention from fans in Michigan. University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has said that at least 80,000 tickets have already been sold. Along those same lines, there is a lot of buzz about the Hockeytown Winter Festival – a two-week outdoor celebration for hockey fans that would include an NHL Alumni game between Red Wings and Maple Leafs greats at Comerica Park.
Now everything hinges on whether meaningful progress is made during very contentious labor negotiations.