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Volume 22 No. 44
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Winter Classic, Festival sales hit record highs

Sponsorship inventory is sold out for all prime positions at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival in Michigan.

According to the NHL, the number of partners signed and amount of sponsorship revenue secured are both highs for the six-year history of the Winter Classic. These national sponsorships for the NHL’s premier regular-season event, sold by the league office and not the clubs, eclipse the sales for the league-operated Stanley Cup Final.

“There’s very little opportunity left on the asset side,” said Keith Wachtel, NHL executive vice president of global partnerships, noting that some smaller activations for local sponsors do remain available.

NHL Event Partners


Title: Bridgestone
Presenting: Geico, Honda, MillerCoors, Verizon
Event-level: Anco, Kimberly-Clark, Scotiabank, Upper Deck
Additional partners: Advil, Compuware, Discover, Enterprise, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Reebok, SiriusXM


Title: SiriusXM
Presenting: Anco, Comerica, McDonald’s, MolsonCoors, Scotiabank, Verizon
Associate: Compuware, Pepsi, Reeebok
Event-level: Delta, Huggies, London (Ontario) Tourism

Source: NHL

This season’s Winter Classic pitting the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1 will be played before more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, while the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park in Detroit comprises two weeks of events on two ice rinks across the baseball field.

It is the same schedule that had been planned last year, before the lockout. It also marks the first time in the event’s history that events will be spread across two locales, with Ann Arbor being 45 miles outside of Detroit.

“We view the Winter Classic as one of the best promotional platforms in sports,” said Jennifer Storms, senior vice president of global sports marketing at PepsiCo, a league and event sponsor.

Bridgestone has been the title sponsor of the Winter Classic since 2009. In 2010, it signed a five-year deal to be the official tire company of the NHL and title sponsor of the Winter Classic through 2015. The cancellation of last year’s Winter Classic means Bridgestone now has the event until 2016.

Presenting sponsors Geico, Honda, MillerCoors and Verizon will have in-ice logos. Other sponsors (see chart) will receive national media assets such as dasherboards, as well as activation space at Spectator Plaza, the sponsor zone on the day of the game; branded scoreboard features; and hospitality.

Delayed one year by the NHL lockout, the Winter Classic will take place at Michigan Stadium.
The Hockeytown Winter Festival is specific to Detroit and the first festival of such a large scope prior to the Classic. The festival will include a two-day college hockey tournament featuring Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Western Michigan; a doubleheader of Ontario Hockey League games; an American Hockey League matchup between the affiliate clubs of the Maple Leafs (the Toronto Marlies) and Red Wings (Grand Rapids Griffins); plus open skates, youth and sled hockey games, and corporate skating parties.

SiriusXM’s deal as title sponsor of the festival is only for this year. The satellite network receives a logo at center ice and dasherboard ads. SiriusXM NHL Network radio will have live programming from the sites of the festival and Winter Classic.

“We’ve been waiting a year because of the lockout, but it’s going to be worth it,” said Steve Cohen, senior vice president of sports programming at SiriusXM. “Having our name and logo all over the ice during the two weeks of the Hockeytown Festival is a dream for someone who’s a programmer like me.”

Winter Festival presenting sponsors Anco, Comerica, McDonald’s, MolsonCoors, Scotiabank and Verizon each receive one in-ice position and dasherboards.

The sales success of the Winter Classic events holds promise for sales of the league’s five other stadium games in 2014: the four-game Coors Light Stadium Series and the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic in Vancouver on March 2.

Of the other outdoor games, Wachtel said, “It expands our inventory to existing partners and new partners. Although we are not sold out yet, most of the premium positions are sold.”