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Winter Classic in Detroit? Frozen Four in Toronto?

As soon as this year's NHL Winter Classic ended, speculation began about who will host the next winter classic. The Red Wings seem to be a pretty natural fit to get a shot at hosting. Comerica Park would be the most logical and likely destination for such an event, but Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon confirmed that the NHL approached him about having the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Stadium worked surprisingly well as a hockey venue for the Big Chill last year. The real question is if the University of Michigan would be interested. Michigan has been hesitant about letting non-UofM events into Michigan Stadium in the past--the rare excpetions being non-threatening events like Michigan Tech football. I doubt they'd risk hosting a record-breaking event without the University of Michigan in some way.

So the question becomes: Is Michigan ready to play another outdoor game at Michigan Stadium? The first one was done almost perfectly, but how much does an event like that lose when it's not a once-in-a-lifetime event? I'd accept one outdoor game at Michigan Stadium every five years so every player staying the full four years gets to play in one, but going back to that well just two years later seems extreme. But if Dave Brandon is willing to dress his football team up like ugly bees to make a few extra dollars, then I'd imagine it would be hard to pass up what is almost a guaranteed sellout of the stadium.

The most logical solution to me, would be to hold off on giving it the Winter Classic to Detroit for a few years. It spaces outdoor games out for Michigan, and in terms of scheduling, Notre Dame would become a perfect opponent. It would be easier to schedule a one-off non-conference game than work around league schedules. Notre Dame's increased exposure over the next few years should start to make them a big enough "name" opponent, and I'm sure NBC would love the opportunity to plug Notre Dame alongside their Winter Classic coverage.

As a final wildcard, I'm no engineer, so I don't know the limits of temporary seating, but if the NHL wants to do a Winter Classic in Detroit, they could probably charge whatever they needed/wanted if they found a way to put a rink on the empty Tiger Stadium lot.

College Hockey Inc. was all over North Dakota's game in Winnipeg last weekend, helping promote the sport. SB Nation's Winnipeg Jets blog sat down with Paul Kelly for an interesting interview. Kelly wouldn't commit to college hockey hosting a game in Canada every year, but it sounds like they'd like to make it as regular a thing as possible. Kelly mentioned Toronto as being interested in hosting a four-team tournament at some point, as well as being interested in bidding on a Frozen Four. If the Air Canada Centre put in any sort of a bid next time they hand out Frozen Four bids, I'd pick them in a second.