Mike Ilitch Praised For Bringing Hockeytown Winter Festival To Comerica Park
The Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park on Friday "had a little bit of everything," as it featured "pond hockey in a baseball stadium, surrounded by a carnival, wrapped up in an NHL block party," according to Jeff Seidel of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The weather "was perfect" with "bright blue skies and sunshine" when Michigan State took on Michigan Tech in the first game of the annual Great Lakes Invitational. There was "music, tailgating, rides, campfires, tents, warming stations, Hall of Fame displays." It was "surreal, but seriously cool and different." However, inside Comerica Park, "attendance was sparse." The "empty seats far outnumbered the ones that were taken." But it "still felt like a big-time event" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/29). In Detroit, Terry Foster wrote, "This is the way Hockeytown is supposed to look." However, all this "never would have happened if Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian didn’t push for the NHL to include Detroit in the Winter Classic." NHL officials "wanted everything to take place in Ann Arbor." But at Comerica Park, the "energy is definitely there." Foster wrote fans "can thank Mike Ilitch" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/29). In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger wrote Hockeytown Winter Festival organizers "have done a great job around Comerica." There are "large hospitality tents; there are bands playing for the fans; there is even a synthetic rink in the Comerica parking lot for kids and their parents to skate on." A "lot of credit must go" to Ilitch, who "pushed for the Winter Classic events to be divided between Detroit and Ann Arbor in order to pump some energy -- and money -- into downtown Hockeytown" (TORONTO SUN, 12/30).