Ann Arbor Preps for New Year’s Hockey

Two events scheduled for New Year’s have received approval for their associated street closings from the Ann Arbor city council: The Puck Drops Here and the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic Game. Council action came at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting.

In connection with the NHL Winter Classic Game to be played on New Year’s Day, the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting a New Year’s Eve event called The Puck Drops Here, which will mimic the dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square, but with a 6-foot diameter lighted “puck” that is being fabricated by METAL.

Puck Drops Here Street Closures

Puck Drops Here street closures.

The name of the event is a play on words. In the game of ice hockey, the start of action is marked with an official dropping of the puck between two opposing players – the puck drop. It’s similar to the tip-off in basketball. The name of the event also plays on the expression popularized by U.S. President Harry Truman: “The buck stops here.”

For The Puck Drops Here event, the council approved street closures downtown along Main Street all day on New Year’s Eve – from 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 to 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The actual event runs from 8 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.

Streets to be closed include:

  • S. Main from E. William to Huron
  • Liberty Street for a block on either side of Main (from S. Ashley to Fourth Avenue)
  • Washington Street for a block on either side of Main (from S. Ashley to Fourth Avenue)

Musical entertainment will feature Michelle Chamuel, who placed second in the most recent edition of the TV vocal competition “The Voice.” She lived in Ann Arbor for a time earlier in her musical career.

The Winter Classic is an NHL hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.

UM football game day street closures.

UM football game day street closures (pink) with detour route (purple). These same street closures will be in effect on Jan. 1 for the NHL Winter Classic.

The game will be played outdoors at the University of Michigan football stadium. Game start time is currently listed on the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau as 1 p.m. The back-up date, in case of inclement weather, is Jan. 2.

The resolution approved by the Ann Arbor city council on Nov. 18 implements many of the conditions that apply during University of Michigan home football games. For example, the newly implemented street closures for home football games will also be authorized for the Winter Classic:

  • E. Keech Street between S. Main and Greene streets, limiting access to parking permit holders on Greene Street from E. Hoover to Keech streets
  • The westbound right turn lane on E. Stadium Boulevard (onto S. Main Street) just south of the Michigan Stadium
  • S. Main Street closed to both local and through traffic from Stadium Boulevard to Pauline

Those closures will be effective three hours before the game and last until the end of the game – with the exception of southbound S. Main Street, which will be closed beginning one hour before the game until the end of the game.

The council also invalidated peddler/solicitor permits and sidewalk occupancy permits in the following areas:

  • S. State Street from E. Hoover Street to the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks
  • Along the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks from S. State Street to the viaduct on W. Stadium Boulevard
  • W. Stadium Boulevard from the viaduct to S. Main Street
  • S. Main Street from W. Stadium Boulevard to Hill Street
  • Hill Street from S. Main Street to S. Division Street
  • S. Division Street from Hill Street to E. Hoover Street
  • E. Hoover Street from S. Division Street to S. State Street
  • S. Main Street from Scio Church Road to W. Stadium Boulevard
  • W. Stadium Boulevard from S. Main Street to Prescott Avenue

The council also authorized a special temporary outdoor sales area so that the owners of commercially and office-zoned property fronting on the following streets can use their private yard areas for outdoor sales and display:

  • West side of S. Main Street between Stadium Blvd. and Hoover Street
  • East side of S. Main Street from 1011 S. Main to Hoover Street
  • North side of Hoover Street between S. Main and S. State streets
  • North side of W. Stadium Blvd. between S. Main and S. State streets

The council also designated the Winter Classic game as a date on which the usual front open space parking prohibition does not apply. So residents who customarily offer their lawns for home football game parking will be able to do so for the Winter Classic as well.

At the most recent meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board, executive director Susan Pollay described for the board how the DDA plans to charge public parking on New Year’s Day – a time when parking would ordinarily be free. That would allow the DDA to take reservations in advance, using the same strategy it uses for art fairs parking in the summer.

The Ann Arbor DDA manages the city’s public parking system under contract with the city, and has the ability to set rates under that contract. There’s a clause in the contract that requires public notice and input for long-term rate increases, but not for one-off changes.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]