Despite some bad weather, the Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA; International League) pulled off a successful Walleye Winterfest at Fifth Third Field, drawing 50,000 attendees over 10 days.
The Mud Hens nonprofit also owns the Toledo Walleye (ECHL), a minor-league hockey team, and leveraged that asset with a rink set up at Fifth Third Field. Over the course of the 10 days fans were welcomed to skate on the Fifth Third Field rink and attend a variety of high-school, college and pro hockey games. It’s been an interesting offseason for the Mud Hens: this fall the team installed a miniature-golf course knowing the ballpark would be receiving new turf before the 2015 season. From the Toledo Blade:
Turning a baseball field into an outdoor hockey arena was part of a $1 million venture that Walleye officials declared was money well spent.
“We feel like it’s been a tremendous success,” said Andi Roman, spokesman for the Toledo Mud Hens and Walleye. “Last Saturday’s game broke the all-time Walleye attendance record. All of the games and events have been so well-attended.”…
“It’s not everyday that you can come downtown on an outdoor rink in the middle of a ballpark,” she said. “It was like Rockefeller Center but here in Toledo. People were holding hands; they were chasing each other. It truly was a novelty. It was something fresh and different.”
It was an event that spilled into other local venues: the local convention center hosted a traveling exhibit from the Hockey Hall of Fame that included the Stanley Cup trophy. As with any wintery event, the Mud Hens were slaves to the weather. And it was no different here: while a total crowd of 50,000 or so was a success, it could have been bigger after freezing rain caused all sorts of travel problems in the area and dampened attendance at Sunday’s Walleye game.
Image courtesy Toledo Mud Hens.