Premium NHL Winter Classic parking snapped up by Canadians

Parking will cost a hefty price for the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year’s Day.

5,000 spots usually available for Michigan football games unavailable for Leafs, Wings outdoor game

More than 100,000 fans are expected to pack Michigan Stadium for the NHL Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. (Associated Press)

Parking will be at a premium for those who want to ring in the new year with a tailgate party at the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year’s Day.

Jason Kapica of Park ‘n’ Party, a parking lot reservation company that oversees thousands of spots surrounding Michigan Stadium, said Canadians are reserving spots in record numbers.

Kapica is selling spots for between $60 and $70 US around the stadium. Others are offering spots on the free classified site Kijiji for $100.

The Winter Classic is officially sold out. The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are scheduled to play in front 107,000-plus people.

Kapica said three times more Canadians than Americans have booked spots for the game.

“There are a lot of Canadians coming across the border for this game,” he said.

Kapica said some Canadians are coming to tailgate and party.

“I’m starting to think the hockey fans can party as hard as our football fans,” he said.

Mo Regnier, who owns Great Adventure Tours in Lakeshore, Ont., east of Windsor, is sending seven busloads of fans to the game. Because there is “absolutely no drop off outside the stadium” his buses must pay to park, at a cost of $200 each.

“It’s minimum $80 for a passenger car,” he said. “And I expect a very big hike [on game day].”

A typical University of Michigan game draws more than 100,000 fans. But there will be at least 5,000 fewer parking spots available New Year’s Day. Two golf courses that normally allow vehicles to park on their properties won’t do so due to weather.

Kapica said snow is also limiting parking spaces in his lots, four of which are almost sold out.

“And the reservations continue to roll in,” he said. “It’s been awesome for the Winter Classic.”

Kapica strongly suggests people reserve spots in advance.

“Even at an average football game, of 100,000 people, with golf course parking, it’s still difficult to find parking,” Kapica said.

Parking is also available in lots in downtown Ann Arbor, where parking garages are charging $5 for the special event. The NHL is providing shuttle service from several points for $4 US round trip.

Puck drops Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. on CBC. In the meantime, here is time lapse video of the rink being constructed at Michigan Stadium.