Updated 05:24 PM EDT, Sat, Oct 31, 2020

NHL Generates $20 Million Profit From 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

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The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the "Big House", which generated the largest attendance and broadcast viewership for a regular-season game in league history, netted the league a profit of over $20 million.

According to SportsBusinessDaily.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs - Detroit Red Wings New Years day game played at Michigan Stadium, which set a league attendance record of 105,491, earned $30 million in revenue against $10 million in cost. SportsBusinessDaily.com reports two-thirds of the revenue came from ticket sales, with fans paying an average ticket price of $186 for a haul of $19.6 million, as well as an additional $10 million in revenue from retail and advertising sales.

The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic drew the largest television audience in North America in the league's history with a combined 8.2 million fans having watched the game on NBC in the United States and on CBC and RDS in Canada.

While the game was considered a home game for the Red Wings, with the league making whole Detroit's finances for the event, the National Hockey League (NHL) pools the rest of the money for their overall hockey-related revenue that in turn is used to set the salary cap. 

"This game exceeded our expectations across every measurable medium," said Brian Jennings , senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the league. "The picturesque uniform designs of two Original Six teams, the transformation of the 'Big House,' Mother Nature giving us an assist with the snow - it all made for an amazing visual presentation of our brand."

The success of the NHL's Winter Classic has spawned the addition of five more outdoor games this season - with games at Dodger Stadium, Soldier Field, and three games at Yankee Stadium - after the popular, annual outdoor game was canceled last year due to the owner's locking out the players in a labor dispute.

The NHL also teamed up with HBO to do a 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic series while also leveraging their broadcast relationships with NBC Sports and Canada's CBC to produce an all-access series, NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other, focusing on the 2014 Stadium Series outdoor games, the NHL Heritage Classic in Vancouver; and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

The Winter Classic moves to Washington DC next year, with the Capitals set to play an undetermined opponent. NHL officials are looking at Nationals Park, FedEx Field, and RFK Stadium as possible host sites.

"An event in the nation's capital gives us a canvas to be big and creative. With the history and the monuments, you have the setting to create something special around the game," said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. "It's New Year's Day. It's the power of the NBC and CBC promotional machine. You get the HBO '24/7' show. Teams want to be part of the Stadium Series, but the Winter Classic comes with added events and opportunities."

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