SBD/Issue 76/Events & Attractions

NHL Scores Rave Reviews For Winter Classic At Fenway Park

Sellout Crowd Of 38,112 Watches The
Bruins Beat The Flyers In Overtime Friday
The Bruins beat the Flyers 2-1 in overtime Friday before a sellout crowd of 38,112 at Fenway Park in the third annual NHL Winter Classic, and the league "soaked up rave reviews" for the event, according to Steve Keating of REUTERS. The event now has "caught the imagination of the public and sponsors." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "If there is any indication to the traction this is getting from sponsors and advertisers -- business partner investment has increased at about 66[%] a year so the message is taking hold" (REUTERS, 1/2). In N.Y., Sandomir & Belson reported the Winter Classic has "turned into a profit center for a league that strives to be different." Friday's event was expected to generate $8M in ticket sales and $3M in "ad revenue for NBC, triple the total" of the first Winter Classic in '08. The NHL noted that its sponsorship sales are growing at a 66% annual pace and that "its merchandise revenue, led by the throwback jerseys inspired by the first Classic, is soaring." NHL COO John Collins said, "The big-event strategy has been critical to bringing in corporate advertising dollars." He added, "The Winter Classic let us walk into a place with real interest from corporate sponsors; it's the kind of event that's on everybody's radar as the newest New Year's Day event" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/31). FORBES' Michael Ozanian reported this year's Winter Classic has 16 partners that were slated to spend over $10M "against the event in the form of sponsorship, media and on-site activation -- more than double last year's game." This is an "amazing achievement at a time when corporate sponsorships are trending down," so "kudos to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL" (FORBES.com, 12/31).

INSTANT CLASSIC: In N.Y., Jeff Klein noted the atmosphere at Fenway Park "was terrific and so was the game," as a "party mood prevailed." Bruins RW Mark Recchi said of Thursday's practice, "Walking out when it was snowing was an amazing feeling" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/2). Flyers RW Ian Laperriere said, "I've never played in front of that many people in my life, and it was great to see it. It was unbelievable when they were chanting the names of the teams back and forth. It's a great experience that I'll cherish for the rest of my life" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/2). Bruins D Zdeno Chara: "It was incredible. It's hard to describe it. It was one of those things you'll experience just once in a lifetime" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/2). Bruins LW Shawn Thornton: "The warm-up was pretty surreal, seeing everybody there." He added of the event, "I hope it builds the brand, obviously. The NHL has done a great job marketing it, (putting it) on NBC, and hopefully a lot of people tuned in" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 1/1). YAHOO SPORTS' Ross McKeon wrote under the header, "Winter Classic Keeps Getting Better." Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said, "It was just an unbelievable experience to be a part of it -- for our organization, for our players, for the fans. It was a great day for hockey" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/1). Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: "It's been a very special week in the city. This game brought a lot of energy with it. ... I told the commissioner, I want this back next year. I love this" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/2). YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Lambert presents a photo essay of the Winter Classic (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/2).

(l to r) Comcast-Spectacor's Peter Luukko,
NHL's Jamey Horan and John Collins, and
Flyers' Paul Holmgren At Winter Classic
HAPPY NEW YEAR! ESPN.com's Burnside & LeBrun wrote the weather for the Winter Classic "was again golden." The snow during Thursday's practice "provided great optics for the lead-in to the game, and the game itself Friday went off without a hitch." Burnside & LeBrun awarded the event an "A" grade (ESPN.com, 1/2). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote the crowd "made the day" at Friday's event, which produced "one of the most magical afternoons in the history" of Fenway Park. Friday's game "lacked the Currier & Ives snowfall that marked Thursday's photogenic practice session, but everything else worked out the way it was sketched on the NHL blueprint." It was a "magical day in Boston sports" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/2). SI's Sarah Kwak wrote Friday's game was "yet another storybook event" for the NHL and a "great day for hockey" (SI.com, 1/1). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts: "For the NHL, this was perfection" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/2). In Boston, Steve Conroy: "It was the most electric atmosphere anyone could imagine for a hockey game" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/2). The CBC's Scott Morrison wrote under the header, "NHL Exceeds Winter Classic Expectations" (CBC.ca, 1/1).  ESPN's Steve Levy said the Winter Classic "was a home run." ESPN's Barry Melrose said it "might have been back-to-back home runs it was so good" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/1). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Adam Proteau wrote the Winter Classic "couldn't have been more of a hit." The placement of the rink was "closer to the infield" than it was in Wrigley Field last year, "heightening the sense of intimacy and providing top-shelf views" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 1/1). In Boston, Steve Buckley wrote the game was "an event you'll never forget." The NHL "did an outstanding job dressing up Fenway Park for hockey while also paying homage to the many baseball elements in the old ballyard" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/2).

I AM LEGEND: In Boston, Eric Moskowitz reported Saturday's AT&T Legends Classic hockey game at Fenway Park drew 33,000 fans, a "record crowd for a charity sporting event in Boston." Actor Kiefer Sutherland, who played in the game, said, "How cool was it that they all showed up? I mean, I don't know how many people can actually say they skated in front of 33,000 people." The event, which also included Bruins Exec VP Charlie Jacobs and Red Sox Chair Tom Werner, "raised $200,000 apiece for the Bruins and Red Sox charitable foundations and a third charity, Hockey Fights Cancer" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/3). Bruins VP and Hockey HOFer Cam Neely said of playing in Saturday's game, "I could not believe the support that these people showed" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/3).

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