Today, the league announced that it will be holding its own version of the Winter Classic on February 20th. The Mirabito Outdoor Classic will pit the Syracuse Crunch against the Binghamton Senators on the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York.
It's the AHL's version of a can't miss matchup with one of the league's veteran franchises -- the 16 year old Crunch -- against their local rival. Put it in Western New York, about as hockey mad a place as there is in America outside of Minnesota, and you've probably got a recipe for success.
According to WBNG in Binghamton, the game is projected to come close to the AHL's all-time attendance record of 20,672 set in Greensboro, North Carolina of all places. Empire State Devlopment, which "provides assistance and service to businesses in order to encourage economic investment and prosperity in the state," and is heading the development of the outdoor game, projects 20,000 fans and $1 million in local revenue from the game.
The Post-Standard out of Syracuse shows us how the bill for putting the event together breaks down:
But more than just a game, the Crunch are planning to set this up as a celebration of hockey's roots in New York State. The team plans to have guest appearances from NHL players that grew up in New York, and a whole host of other attractions in the classic minor league promotion form of "VIP tents, parties, entertainment, cheerleaders, hot tubs, etc."The game could cost as much as $900,000. The Crunch is paying as much as $550,000, which includes about $400,000 for installation of the temporary rink. Sponsorship helps out with about $350,000, including $100,000 from Time Warner. Gov. David Paterson helped secure a $75,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corp., and also cleared the way for the Crunch to use the Fairgrounds without paying a user fee.
There's no word yet on what the going rate for a hot tub at the Outdoor Classic is going run but I, for one, can't wait to see how they're going to set this up.