Thanks to the NHL lockout during the 2012-2013 season, the Winter Classic which was scheduled to be played at Michigan Stadium aka the Big House, home of the Michigan Wolverines between the hometown Detroit Red Wings & the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year's Day 2013 was cancelled. When they finally came to their senses & they reached an agreement, they decided to have the Winter Classic there a year later instead.
With that being said, the King & I set our sights on going there to start the 2014 calendar year. Since we had been to all the Winter Classics except the one in Wrigley Field in 2009, we wanted to continue our tradition. This time it was about more than just going to the game there. My pal & co-founder of the website, Stadium Journey, Paul Swaney lives there with his wife Jennifer & their son Owen. When tickets went on sale on Ticketmaster in October, I went online & I bought them for all of us. As it got closer, I got in touch with Paul & we arranged to meet up for breakfast at Holiday's Restaurant, which is a local place he suggested. It turned out to be a perfect choice. We met up around 10:40AM that morning after the King & I weathered the storm as we drove from Jackson, Michigan which is 35 miles from Ann Arbor. Paul's wife dropped him off there. She then took their son Owen sled riding.
Paul got to finally meet the King for the first time. He was thrilled to do so. When I finally met Paul at a Detroit Lion game at Ford Field on December 29, 2013 the King wasn't with me. We all got to enjoy a great breakfast before we headed over to the game together. It was a cold snowy day which made for a winter wonderland setting at the Big House. Mother nature came up with a beautiful way to start the New Year.
After we ate, Paul came in the car with us & he showed us where we could park for free within a short walkig distance of the Stadium since he only lives a mile away. Thankfully we were dressed for the occasion so we were ready for what mother nature was throwing at us. Once we got by the Stadium we walked around the exterior for a short time before we decided to head inside. We wound up having really good seats to see the game. Since we're pros at going to these games, we know the best seats are the so called nosebleeds. Unlike most sporting events, the higher up you sit the better the vantage point you have to see the game. We wound up in row 80 which gave us a nice view of the action. Since it's a once a year time event, we didn't mind splurging for the game especially since the Red Wings are the King's favorite hockey team.
|The King & I Outside Michigan Stadium|
Me braving the elements on New Year's Day
As for the game we saw, the Red Wings lost to the Maple Leafs, 3-2 in a shootout in front of a record crowd of 105,491 who braved the elements to part of this annual tradition. Despite the outcome, the King & I had a blast. We managed to survive the cold 13 degree game time temperature as well as all the snow that fell throughout the game.
|Red Wings & Maple Leafs warming up|
|Maple Leafs win, 3-2 in shootout!|
After the game, we had an adventurous ride back to NYC. I wound up driving us all the way back. It took me 11 hours to drive 615 miles. We got off to a rough start because of traffic leaving the area. In addition, we had to deal with snow covered icy roads until we got past the Toledo area & part of the way towards Cleveland, Ohio before all the snow was finally gone. Once we got through that mess, it was an easy but time consuming ride home. Thankfully we got back around 5AM. Since I was off that day I was able to catch up on sleep.
Stay tuned for a series of special posts that will go into detail about the rest of the month of January.
Thank you for reading & following along.