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Volume 24 No. 117

Events and Attractions

The hype surrounding Sunday's Canadiens-Flames Heritage Classic in Calgary can be "seen in sponsorship," as companies from across Canada have "lined up to have their name attached to this event which is expected to draw more than 41,000 spectators and millions of television viewers," according to Mario Toneguzzi of the CALGARY HERALD. NHL VP/Partnership Marketing Kyle McMann said feedback from businesses in Canada "has been tremendous for this event." Tim Hortons is the title sponsor of the outdoor game, its "first partnership with the NHL." Scotiabank, BlackBerry, Canadian Tire and Bell "have signed on as well as North American partners Pepsico, Reebok, Kimberley Clark, Bridgestone, LG, Cisco, Budweiser." McMann: "If you look at the sponsorship list across the board, we're talking and working and partnering at the highest levels with iconic Canadian brands." Toneguzzi noted the NHL as of last week "had signed 13 companies for various levels of sponsorship for the game" (CALGARY HERALD, 2/15).

HEAVY RESALE MARKET: In Calgary, Sean Myers reported "several hundred" fans have posted ads on classified advertising website Kijiji for tickets to the Heritage Classic, and "many more are available through online sites, including eBay and even Ticketmaster." While "many of the ads online are selling tickets at or near face value, some are obviously out to make a profit," as one Kijiji ad "offers 10 first-row seats for $10,000." One of the "more creative ads on Kijiji isn't even asking for money," as a "single male is looking for an 'attractive female Flames fan' to buy him dinner Saturday night in exchange for him taking her to the game the next day" (CALGARY HERALD, 2/17).

NO WEATHER CONCERNS: The CP noted though "warm, damp conditions forced the league to push the Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Jan. 1 from an afternoon to an evening start in an attempt to avoid the rain," there will be "no such sogginess Sunday." Temperatures in Calgary "steadily dropped over the last week to" -4 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday morning, providing NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig "with the ideal conditions to create two inches of ice" on McMahon Stadium's field. The "cold snap is forecasted to end in time for Sunday's game, with temperatures rising to a more spectator-friendly high" of 30 degrees, "with clear skies and a light breeze out of the south" (CP, 2/17).

SPORTING NEWS TODAY's Craig Custance writes as much as the NHL "may not want its two outdoor games ... to be looked at exclusively through the lens of the country in which they're played, it's inevitable." Plenty of hockey fans "see the Winter Classic as America's outdoor game," and the Heritage Classic "should be just as fun for fans in Calgary." Custance: "It doesn't sound like there's a big appetite to put American teams in that game. Or vice versa" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 2/18). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes there is a "tension over the two games." For U.S. hockey, the Winter Classic "has become a proprietary franchise, a bragging point, a rallying cry to sell the sport." So when the NHL "awards a second outdoors game to Calgary, it seems like a case of watering down the franchise." The "question now is will Canada get behind the Heritage branding the way the United States has supported its outdoors games?" With "just six possible venues for the game, the format could get old very quickly" in Canada (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/18).

NOT QUITE REVVED UP FOR DETROIT: In Detroit, Ted Kulfan notes the city "has been heavily pushed by local hockey fans" to host a Winter Classic, with Michigan Stadium and Comerica Park as possible locations. But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday "wouldn't commit to the winter showcase event coming to Detroit." Bettman: "Would we like to do an outdoor game in Michigan? The answer is, we know it's a great hockey market, the Ilitches are terrific owners, and they certainly know how to put on first-class events. The logistics, the specifics ... as they say, the devil is in the detail" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/18).