Article courtesy of MLive SAGINAW, MI — The Saginaw Spirit have a history with the Hockeytown Winter Festival and it extends farther back and more deeply than last year’s lockout.
At its heart, the festival has a Saginaw feel to it, and that’s because it’s being put together by one of the Spirit’s own.
Jim Biewer, former Director of Gameday Operations for the Saginaw Spirit, has been in charge of preparing the two-week festival that features hockey games, bands, bon fires and fun zones in the largest hockey experience ever put together.
“It’s actually amazing,” Biewer said. “Last year, my sister had a wedding the exact same day the Spirit were going to play. I was bummed I had to miss it, but fortunately for the lockout, it got bumped back and I’ll be able to see it.”
Biewer is most likely the first, and one of the few, to see last year’s lockout as fortunate, however, as a longtime Saginaw Spirit employee, it’s only fitting that he’s involved.
The 29-year old was an intern when the Spirit first came to Saginaw in 2002, and he became Director of Gameday Operations following his graduation from Northwood University with a degree in entertainment, sport & promotion management.
He worked with the Spirit for six years before moving on to the Detroit Red Wings — a week before they became the 2008 Stanley Cup champions — where he’s worked his way up to become the Event and Experiential Marketing Manager.
“A lot of working in sports is ‘Right place, right time,’” Biewer said. “Luckily I fell on the right times. I graduated college and (Spirit president and managing partner) Craig (Goslin) had something available. It was the same thing with the Red Wings.”
Biewer said they had a basic layout of how the festival would be put together prior to last year’s NHL lockout, however, the grunt work still needed to be done this year.
“At the end of the day, it’s the biggest hockey related event ever,” he said. “No one has ever had an event like this with over two weeks of hockey.”
The Spirit opened the Ontario Hockey League section of the festival at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29 in the first outdoor game in conference history that is projected to nearly double the previous record for attendance with around 30,000 seating for fans.
“I’ll be busy working, but I’ll definitely be able to pop in when the Spirit are playing,” Biewer said.