2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park

I’ve set my DVR to tape the rebroadcast of the Winter Classic that’s set for Wednesday night, given that I’d like to watch the hockey game I attended this afternoon.

From my spot in the bleachers, I was able to see the rink and the general flow of the action. I could see the goalies react to shots taken on the first base end of the rink, but not so much on the third base side. When the time came for Marco Sturm to show a national television audience just what’s been delighting us here in Boston, I knew what had happened once the crowd started to react.

It’s true: Those watching at home got a better view of the action than I did. But I’m the last person you’re going to find complaining. While I’m a person who always wants to go to a game to actually, you know, see the game, my trip to the Winter Classic was based entirely around the idea of sharing in the delight of experiencing the Bruins play at Fenway Park.

Everything that’s familiar to me about the park was turned on its head. It’s natural to see among those in the pre-game Lansdowne crowd jersey callbacks to the home team’s greatest players, but black and gold Orrs and Thorntons took over the spaces usually reserved for red and blue Yazes and Fisks. The NHL flag flew over the procedings on Yawkey Way. People were still posing with the Williams statue, but Teddy Ballgame was dusted with snow. And while sipping a beer in the bleachers before a ballgame is nothing new to me, doing so wearing seven layers of shirts, delighted over the sight of my breath is altogether unusual.

Quirks aside (which I address with tips included below), it was precisely what I’d been hoping to experience: two things I love coming together and succeeding. And with an overtime victory that matched the enthusiasm of Drew’s hit during that amazing Game 5, no less.

I’m used to Fenway shaking from the sound of the crowd. But this was January, awesome and just so much fun to experience.

Click here to view more photos from the day.

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In the spirit of doing my part to help make the 2011 and future Winter Classics even more successful from a fan experience perspective, I’ve created a new notes that the NHL might want to consider for next time:

  • Video screens: Thinking to include video screens for fans has been a regular staple of the Classic, but the screen in center field did nothing for fans in the bleachers who really couldn’t see much of what was happening. It might require getting creative, but there needs to be something to give the fans farther away more of a chance to really follow the action. The screen up near the Cumberland Farms corner was appreciated, but too small to serve its purpose effectively.
  • Non-game production: When the teams weren’t playing, things just felt disorganized. Again, I offer this from the perspective of someone in the bleachers, but I never knew where to look or where things were happening. And given how much the Dropkick Murphys performance was hyped here in Boston in recent days, you’d think the production team would do something to let fans know when the Dropkick Murphys were playing live. Given that a recorded version of “Time to Go” was played a short time before the band emerged to perform “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” it was easy to miss what was going on. And much as I appreciate the effort to entertain the crowd during the intermission and as much as I know the trials and tribulations of live production, the two women who served as emcees were struggling.
  • If you warm them, they will buy: Kudos and many thanks to those who put together the seat cushion package – and to those who handled the task of individually placing more than 30,000 of those cushions so that fans could be more comfortable. This is just an idea, but I think that any company that sponsored the inclusion of hand or foot warmers in that little pack could potentially enjoy a whole lot of appreciation and resulting brand loyalty.
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