ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Anticipation is growing in St. Louis as the NHL Winter Classic looms.
"I got a Winter Classic hat and I just got a Winter Classic jersey from my friend," said hockey fan Mark Ellerbusch.
Ellerbusch is one of the 45,000 fans who’ll descend upon downtown St. Louis and Busch Stadium for both Saturday's alumni game and Monday's Winter Classic.
"It’s definitely a big draw," Ellerbusch said. "I didn’t believe how hard it was to get a ticket. Chicago’s got a big following, unfortunately.”
According to the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the Winter Classic events are expected to bring in $18.5 million to the region. No matter who wins the game, downtown hotels, restaurants, and bars will walk away with an off-the-ice victory.
"We’re opening two hours early," said Patrick O'Neill, manager at Flannery's Pub on Washington Avenue. "We’re opening at nine o’clock on the second, doing different drink specials, we have a bus that’s going to be chartering people over to the stadium, so it should be a good time.”
With more excitement and activities come more opportunities for consumers to fall prey. Officials are warning people not to fall victim to counterfeit gear or fake tickets.
"People are always looking for a bargain, so somebody has something; it’s real cheap, so they jump on it and they get to the gate and can’t get in," said ticket broker Stephen Gray, SportTix USA.
Gray said there's one important piece of advice people should heed concerning Winter Classic tickets.
"There will be no paper tickets," he said. "All of the tickets are commemorative tickets. So the NHL gave out tickets that people could keep for the future, they look like a normal ticket a baseball ticket or such. No reprints.”