Impact of Red Wings camp estimated at $3 million

TRAVERSE CITY – When does the color red turn into green?

When the Detroit Red Wings hold their annual training camp in Traverse City and help generate $3 million in local business.

"We notice a difference when the Wings are in town," said Marco Marcantoni from Mackinaw Brewing Co. "We have folks coming in from downstate and we have Red Wings players themselves coming in."

Marcantoni remembers Red Wings players Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios coming into the restaurant a few years ago.

"They didn't order anything extravagant," he said. "They each got a salad, an appetizer and a burger. But people did follow them in. Overall, I'd say our business goes up about five percent during Wings week."

Jen Brooks, a manager at North Peak, agreed.

"We see business go up," she said. "Not so much with food, but drinks."

The food and beverage industry sees the biggest impact during the week, but so do businesses like Nothing But Sports on Eighth St. The store sells sports memorabilia and has a wide selection of Red Wings items. During Red Wings week, a spokesman said sales "jump significantly."

Red Wings camp returns to Centre ICE in mid-September. When they arrive, it will be without longtime captain and certain Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman, who has retired. But joining the team again will be goalie Dominek Hasek.

"It's going to be different this year without Yzerman playing," said Centre ICE executive director Terry Marchand. "But I look for him to be at training camp. And I look for this camp to be the most wide open-in terms of job available-than it's been for a long time."

"The Red Wings will have a different look, but they'll still be good. There's still a lot of enthusiasm in northern Michigan for training camp."

This is the Red Wings' 9th year training in Traverse City. Training camp director Pete Correia tags the economic impact the Red Wings have on the Traverse City area at $3 million.

"That's for the Prospect Tournament and the Red Wings camp," said Correia. "It has a big impact on the area."

Training camp actually kicks off on Friday, Sept. 8 with the NHL Prospect Tournament. Prospects are draft choices and free agents who make up the minor leagues. The Prospect Tournament runs through Tuesday, Sept. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the door for prospect games at $5 each.

This year there will be eight NHL teams represented at Prospect Camp-the Red Wings, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Columbus and the New York Rangers.

The Red Wings come to town on Thursday, Sept. 14. They'll take part in a golf tournament that day at 1 p.m. at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, followed by a dinner.

Then they go from the links to the ice. Practice starts the following day, Sept. 15 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 17. Tickets for the 9 a.m. practice sessions are $15 each.

On Monday, Sept. 18, the Gold Game will take place at 6 p.m. at Centre ICE. Tickets are $20 each.

The Red Wings then fly to Minnesota on Tuesday for an exhibition game, but return Wednesday, Sept. 20 for the Red & White game at noon. Tickets are $25 for that game.

Fans are also in a perfect position to get autographs of their favorite players.

"The best spot to be is on the east side of Centre ICE after practice," said Marchand. "That's where the players get in their cars. I've seen Yzerman and Lidstrom spend an hour autographing items. They take turns by the day signing autographs. But they are very generous with their time. They appreciate how Traverse City rolls out the red carpet for them."

For information about training camp or ticket availability, check www.centreice.org or call 933-7465. BN

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