This morning in Quick Hits, we linked to a NY Times story by Jeff Z. Klein discussing the ins-&-outs of the league's deal with the University of Michigan and what a lockout would mean for the Winter Classic.
The N.H.L.’s contract with Michigan, approved by the university’s board of regents on Feb. 9, contains provisions that treat a work stoppage in a way similar to a "force majeure" cancellation brought about by act of God, riot, weather, disaster or any other cause beyond the league’s control.
You catch that part? "any other cause beyond the league's control."?
The NHL can wait until the day of January 1st to decide not to play the Winter Classic and call that cancellation essentially an uncontrollable situation which created it similar to an act of God. That's right, the NHL owners locking out their players is so beyond their control that they could use this uncontrollable force (wielded by they themselves) in order to cancel the Winter Classic.
Don't worry, you'll get the cost of your ticket back... mostly. As pointed out by George Malik (or more to the point, as pointed out TO George Malik and then BY George Malik), while you'll no doubt get the cost of the seat refunded, that ridiculous service fee they built into the cost is theirs to keep.
What's better is that the league, which paid the University of Michigan $3M to rent the Big House from January 1 to the 9th, will get back all but $100,000 of that rental fee if they do cancel the Classic (although the contract does stipulate that if they cancel after November 3rd, they're on the hook for the $100K plus any expenses the university incurs as part of preparations for the game). The league essentially pays a 3.3% surcharge for backing out of this contract thanks to the "uncontrollable" situation that would be an owners' lockout.
So, here's to hoping that 29 vengeful gods don't act uncontrollably and cancel our Winter Classic. But at least if they do, you get roughly half of your money back for the ticket you've already bought.