The Detroit Red Wings announced details today about the Coke Zero Fan Zone, a five-day celebration leading up to the virtually sold-out New Year’s Day Winter Classic Game between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. More than 107,000 people are expected to attend the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, with thousands heading to downtown Detroit for the 15-day Hockeytown Winter Festival.
“Local businesses will benefit from the thousands of fans who will eat, drink, shop, and sleep in downtown establishments,” says Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “In addition, (the Fan Zone) will create exposure and revenue for the local vendors and Detroit restaurants on-site and new fans for the local entertainers being showcased on its stages.”
Josh Guitar, general manager of the Detroit Beer Co., says the Fan Zone — held Dec. 27 to Dec. 31 on the grounds of Comerica Park — will increase traffic at local businesses. “Any event going downtown brings business. We don’t normally slow down during the holiday season, but any event can increase business,” he says.
Last year, the game and festival were expected to draw 400,000 visitors, but was canceled due to a NHL lockout that shortened the 2012/2013-hockey season.
This year, the Fan Zone, hosted in three large heated tents, will include local musical entertainment, food vendors, and Snowzilla, an inflatable toboggan slide. The Hockey Hall of Fame will host an artifact exhibit and will offer photo opportunities with the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings Experience Tent and the Molson Canadian Hockey House will include interactive activities and Q&A sessions with Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni.
Additionally, numerous high school, college, and alumni hockey games will be played inside Comerica Park, where a large rink is under construction.
Admission to the Fan Zone is free to those holding tickets to that day’s hockey games or $5 each day for non-ticketholders. For more information, visit detroitredwings.com /2014winterclassic.