Griffins, Marlies to play at Comerica

The Grand Rapids Griffins will venture outside to play in winter’s chill for the first time next season when they host the Toronto Marlies in a regular-season American Hockey League game at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

The Griffins’ first-ever outdoor game will be part of the Detroit Red Wings’ “Hockeytown Winter Festival,” a series of NHL alumni, junior, college, high school and youth contests that will lead up to the much-anticipated 2013 NHL Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.

All game dates, as well as ticket prices, policies and procedures, will be announced in the coming months. Fans wishing to receive Griffins-Marlies ticket information once it’s available are invited to submit their contact information here.

“We’re honored to be part of such a tremendous and historic event for the Red Wings and hockey fans across Michigan,” said Tim Gortsema, the Griffins’ senior vice president of business operations. “Comerica Park is an appropriate place for us to play our first outdoor game, as many of our current players will be playing full-time in downtown Detroit in just a few years, and nearly 50 former Griffins have worn the Winged Wheel since 2002. Our organization and our fans are thrilled to have this opportunity to represent the AHL in Hockeytown.”

The Griffins-Marlies contest will unofficially serve as a “futures game” and an accompaniment to their parent clubs’ Original Six clash, as the Griffins are in their 10th season as the Red Wings’ top affiliate and the Marlies were founded by the Maple Leafs in 2005. It will also mark the second AHL outdoor game to be held in conjunction with the NHL’s Winter Classic. Just last month, on Jan. 6 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the Adirondack Phantoms defeated the Hershey Bears 4-3 in overtime before a crowd of 45,653.

To date, four outdoor games have been staged by AHL teams:

Date Site Result Attendance
Feb. 20, 2010 New York State Fairgrounds
Syracuse, N.Y.
Syracuse 2, Binghamton 1 21,508
Feb. 19, 2011 Rentschler Field
East Hartford, Conn.
Providence 5, Connecticut 4 (SO) 21,673
Jan. 6, 2012 Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, Pa.
Adirondack 4, Hershey 3 (OT) 45,653
Jan. 21, 2012 Ivor Wynne Stadium
Hamilton, Ont.
Toronto 7, Hamilton 2 20,565