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2014 Winter Classic Produces Sky-High Revenue, Merchandise And Ratings

By Ashley Dunkak

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) - Just as the NHL hoped, the Original Six matchup of the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs plus the 100,000-plus capacity of Michigan Stadium - "The Big House" -  in Ann Arbor combined for an outrageously successful Winter Classic.

According to Sports Business Journal, the game did fantastic in several categories, starting with the crowd of 105,491, the largest ever to see a hockey game and one that stayed throughout the game despite frigid temperatures and snow.

Additionally, the Winter Classic brought in $30 million in revenue after the NHL spent approximately $10 million on the event. SBJ reports that while the league spent about as much on the 2012 edition of the game in Philadelphia, this year's Classic made double the amount that the event two years ago did.

While two-thirds of the revenue came from ticket sales, with an average price close to $200, a substantial amount came from sales of merchandise, according to SBJ. The NHL's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Brian Jenning, said those sales were up 60 percent from the second-most successful game, the 2011 Classic.

That game had also ranked highest in non-playoff game viewership, according to Yahoo, with 6.6 million viewers in North America, but the 2014 game knocked that mark out of the water as 8.2 million watched the Wings and Leafs.

All in all, the event in Ann Arbor proved so successful that many wonder how the NHL will top it in coming years.

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