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Report: Winter Classic made $20 million profit

Jan 13, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT

In a photo provided by National Hockey League Images and taken with a fisheye lens, a record crowd watches the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs play in the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/NHLI, Noah Graham) AP

As reported by Sports Business Journal, apparently the 2014 Winter Classic was a mighty profitable one:

According to an NHL source, the Jan. 1 game at Michigan Stadium posted more than $30 million in revenue against costs of $10 million. Approximately two-thirds of the revenue was derived from ticket sales, with 105,491 fans paying an average ticket price of $186 for an estimated take of $19.6 million. An additional $10 million in revenue came from retail and advertising sales.

We’ve mentioned already that it’s going to be tough to top the 2014 event next season when it’s hosted by the Washington Capitals, likely at Nationals Park.

But the success of holding the Winter Classic at a massive college football stadium certainly raises the possibility of more games in similar venues. Like, say, Flyers-Penguins at Beaver Stadium? Or, how about the Blackhawks hosting one at Notre Dame Stadium? NBC knows its way around South Bend, right?

  1. stepanup - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Can we get a comparable? How profitable were previous classics? It’d just be nice to have some context. It certainly sounds great. Now how about that rising cap?

    • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Here’s a little indication;

      “The third Classic, between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday afternoon, is expected to generate $8 million in ticket sales at Fenway Park and $3 million in ad revenue at NBC, triple the total of two years ago.”

      • c9castine - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        wow pretty incredible to think about that. the first one was wildly successful, with a good game between the two team in two great small market hockey towns. cold and snowy with sidney crosby carrying the flag and winning the game in what was at the time, the cool exciting thing for fans the shootout. (everybody seems to be over it now).

        and now its grown into a monster.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:37 PM

        Fenway sat around 36k+ at the time so I don’t know if that’s the best comparable to use with the 100k+ of Michigan

      • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        Yeah! Two thirds of the revenue from 2014 was from ticket sales.

    • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      And; “this year’s Classic made double the amount that the event two years ago did.” If you do the math you get roughly the following in revenue;

      2008: 3.6million
      2010: 11 million
      2014: 30 million

      • stepanup - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        Thank you sir.

  2. joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Thank you Mr. Bettman.



  3. penguins87and71 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Man I wish I would have thought of having an outdoor NHL game on New Years Day. I could be filthy rich right now. Sigh.

    • imleftcoast - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      If they have the weather in Vancouver that they had for the Hawks/Saints game on Saturday, it is going to be a mess. If you missed it, we’re recreating it on Sunday in Seattle versus the Niners.

      • c9castine - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:17 AM

        northwest coastal weather is a different kind. lived on the oregon coast for a while and in the summer it was 50 and partly cloudy/windy every day. and i got a lot of fog there up on the cliffs.

  4. bencia823 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    I’d love to know the numbers on the Penguins vs. Blackhawks game. I don’t know that it will be as profitable as this one, but with it selling out in a day, I’d be surprised if they don’t have a similar ROI

    • penguins87and71 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      It’s the Penguins vs the Blackhawks two of the primere teams in the NHL. I would expect the income for that game to be pretty high. I don’t know if the income will be as much as the Leafs/Redwings game, but I bet it will still be pretty high.

      • bencia823 - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:42 PM

        thats why I said ROI. I’m more interested in the percentage than the actual total

    • niubears - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Soldier Field only has a capacity of around 62k. NHL will still make a nice chunk of change from it though

  5. xdj511 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    And they’re going to take that $20 million and… just blow it all on hats.

  6. flash8910 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    So where does the $20 mil go? Were the Wings the home team? Do they take the pot? Do the teams split? Is this the NHL revenue part that every team splits?

    • bencia823 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      I would imagine that whoever was shelling out the $10 million in costs will be seeing the lion’s share of the $30 million they made in revenue

  7. LampyB - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    How can the avg ticket price have been $186 for a game with 105,000 seats located in outer space? No freaking way people in MI paid anywhere close to that price. I would guess avg $30-50 with that many seats available…

    • bencia823 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      The cheapest ticket for the Penguins vs. Blackhawks game was over $100. That game sold out in a day. Demand for these games is high, so the NHL can get away with charging those prices because there are more than 105,000 people who are willing to pay that much

  8. howintensive - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Man, if only Columbus had a bigger fan base. Bettman would be licking his chops at the prospect of packing the Horseshoe…

  9. cpodolsk - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    As someone who was in attendance, this story really bothers me. The NHL is reporting $20 million in profit, and a good portion of my section missed over half the game standing in line for no apparent reason. I’ve contacted the Red Wings, the NHL, and Michigan Stadium for an explanation to no avail. When you think about it, at about 100 bucks a pop for a ticket with over 105,000 in attendance, sure they made a ton of money, but it’s unfortunate to see how many fans were treated once they went through the turnstiles. I can only speak from personal experience, but it was easily the worst run sporting event I’ve ever been to. All I’ve been hearing is praise for Bettman (for once), but the idea that fans were mistreated is not getting any media traction. It’s a sad state, with the price of tickets around the country, that fans are being ignored and essentially taken advantage of. I understand the size of the event, and I’m not one looking for bells and whistles or for them to roll out the red carpet, but missing over half a game when you’re already inside the stadium, without any explanation, in my mind, is unacceptable.

  10. deadrabbit79 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    Can you explain further this mistreatment of the fans you are speaking of? Waiting in line? For what?

    • cpodolsk - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      That is the $100 question. We got trough the gate no problem. It took a bit to navigate the crowd, but we got to the section well ahead of puck drop. We stood in line for over an hour and a half. Event staff kept stopping by, asking us why we were waiting. We’d tell them we were waiting to get to our seat, and they said they’d get to the bottom of it, only to walk away and not come back. For a while, we thought they were only seating after a whistle, which is completely acceptable. However, when numerous commercial timeouts, penalties, and even first intermission passed without the line moving, we grew skeptical. It got to the point that some fans simply forfeited their tickets and left. My total time in a stand-still line was about an hour and a half. I saw the ice surface for the first time with 15:00 left I the second. I didn’t get to my seat until halfway through the game. And the crazy thing is that I’ve spoken with others who attended the game, even one seated in the luxury box, and they had the same issue, all without any explanation.

  11. lovac2 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    I almost started to feel bad for NHL when I saw them offering $50 off a ticket for the LA game but I guess they will be fine.

  12. tapefolie - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Cpodolsk sounds like the type of whinny loser I’d never go anywhere with. No one wants to go out and hear you complain the whole time. Pull up your big boy pants, grab your nuts and get on with your life!!

    • cpodolsk - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      Just so we’re clear, tapefolie, can you define whinny as you used it? I’d like to add it to my vocabulary.

  13. hardkor07mn - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    ^^^^^^^^^ ha ha ha ha. That’s funny!

  14. cspsrbums - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    The 2015 should be played on the Mall in front of Washington monument and the Capital in the back drop

    • bethgoesglobal - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      That would be pretty but clearly it’s impossible. Even if special bleachers were installed; where would the other 50,000 people go?
      I think RFK would be the best venue; even if it is falling apart. It’s more historic and “storied”, per say. I’d say it’s bigger than national Park but I think they actually carry around the same number of seats.
      – just my two cents..

  15. bozgood - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Cpod, sorry to hear about the difficult time you had. My wife and I didn’t have any problems. Unless you count my beer freezing before I finished it. But you could just blame that on me for not finishing it quick enough.

    • cpodolsk - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      Bozgood, the condolences are appreciated. And, contrary to a previous comment, I’m not putting this out there to be whiney (or whinny, depending on who is speaking). Everyone has had a negative sports outing. It happens, and it’s usually out of anyone’s control. The only issue I had was a lack of explanation from either on-site staff or from the entities I contacted looking for answers. I understand I’m not likely to see a cent of my ticket money back, but it is a developing theory of mine that if fans begin to accept treatment, the organizations will lower the standard of service. In my opinion, we’ve already seen this nationwide with the quality of product. Take a look at Cub fans, for example. They keep paying to show up at Wrigley, even when the teams are terrible, so why would the front office change anything. Again, it was what it was, and it’s gone, but some day, I hope someone can explain why we stood still for so long.

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