Since the first day they announced the coming of the Phantoms hockey team, there’s been a sentiment among Lehigh Valley sports fans that a “Winter Classic” would be perfect at Coca Cola Park. And why not? You’ve got one of the premier Minor League facilities in the country, in an area with excellent fan support for both baseball and hockey. What’s not to like, right?
And, I’d love it. But I’m here to tell you it will never happen. Never say never, you say? Nope. Never. Never ever. Never. Just put it out of your mind. In fact, sources from within the Phantoms organization have already told us that it won’t happen.
Why? What could be so bad?
It’s the biggest reason “why,” for anything, ever:
Let’s do some quick math:
Let’s say Coca Cola Park could be expanded to accommodate 12,000 fans for hockey. And, let’s say you make all the season ticket holders for the IronPigs and the Phantoms pay full price for tickets. And, let’s say you could get $100 average per seat for that game. That’s a lot of assumptions, but it yields $1.2 Million dollars in ticket sales, before food, drink, and parking.
Now, let’s say you hold the same game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, with upwards of 45,000 seats. It’s been done, and that city will support two hockey teams, remember. You could charge half for the tickets, $50 average, and still make $2.25 Million. Almost double, and make up the difference in concessions and parking for the increased, hungry and thirsty attendees. And, you could use the same rink and hold an NHL game there, too. They did it in 2012 holding the NHL game on January 2 and the AHL game on January 6.
Another “Outdoor Classic” was held on January 20, 2013 in Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey between the Bears and the Wilkes Barre Pens. 17,311 turned out for that game. Hersheypark has a “stands” capacity of around 16,000.
So what to do? Go back to Philadelphia? Will the leagues allow that? Will folks turn out for it again in the same place?
I’m sure it was profitable and I’m sure it would work again. However, I’ve got the solution for an even bigger and more profitable event. Two words: Beaver Stadium.
An NHL event between the Flyers and the Penguins could be scheduled along with an AHL event between the Phantoms and Baby Pens. Beaver Stadium holds 107,282. The Winter Classic attendance record was set at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor last season with 104,173.
We can do this…let’s set the record!
See you at the stadium,
PS: Special thanks to DiPro for research and information which went into this piece.