July 15, 2009: The NHL Winter Classic, which unlike other events really has become a classic, is heading to Boston for the third incarnation of what has become a much-anticipated New Year's Day event. The NHL held a press conference at Fenway Park July 15 to confirm the event for Jan. 1, 2010 and to unveil Bridgestone as returning title sponsor. The game will feature the Boston Bruins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers.
The league would have been hard-pressed not to hold the event considering that there is no 2010 All-Star Game due to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February and also considering the media, marketing and fan interest it has generated. The league's first Winter Classic, held Jan. 1, 2008 in Buffalo, attracted big TV numbers for NBC for an NHL game, especially considering that it was mostly prepared under the radar and with relatively little fan fare. That was topped by the second Winter Classic, played Jan. 1, 2009 in Chicago's Wrigley Field, which had much more marketing and media build up.
Boston edges out New York, where the new Yankee Stadium was being considered as a venue. For the event, the NHL turned Fenway Park from a baseball sanctuary into a faux hockey rink - ice will be added just before the game this winter - complete with dasherboards and giant inflatable NHL jerseys situated in front of The Green Monster.
Marketing partners, fans and league executives like the ROI they've seen so far from the first two games. As title sponsor in 2009, Bridgestone saw the game played in Chicago's Wrigley Field on Jan. 1 as "a tremendous opportunity to build Bridgestone brand awareness," according to Phil Pacsi, vice-president, North America Consumer Tire Marketing at Nashville-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire. Other league marketing partners such as Reebok, McDonald's, Anheuser-Busch, Honda and NBC (which aired the Winter Classic) also have expressed enthusiasm over the event.
"The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has become a huge annual event in the sports world, which provides great exposure for our Bridgestone Brand," John Baratta, President, Consumer Replacement Tire Sales, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, said during the press conference at Fenway Park. "Having [the 2010] Winter Classic in Fenway Park, one of the truly iconic venues in sports, will only add to the excitement level and fan interest surrounding this year’s event. We can't wait for the puck to drop."
The first two Winter Classics proved to be bigger successes than even the NHL had anticipated. The Bridgestone Winter Classic this past Jan. 1 at Wrigley Field garnered NBC TV's highest ratings for a regular season NHL game since 1975 and was 12% higher than NBC's telecast of the Jan. 1, 2008 Winter Classic played in Buffalo, N.Y., where Pepsi's Amp Energy was title sponsor. "The league has carved a unique space for itself on New Year's Day among all the college football bowl games," said John Cimperman, managing partner at Cenergy Communications, located just outside of Buffalo, which worked closely with the NHL on the first Winter Classic and with NHL Network on the second. "The league gets tremendous national exposure, which is what marketing and media partners look for." Back to Home Page