Michigan Stadium To Host 2013 NHL Winter Classic
Earlier Wednesday the University of Michigan Board of Regents authorized the athletic department to seek a contract with the NHL for use of Michigan Stadium, commonly referred to as The Big House. The NHL is reportedly offering $3 million to Michigan for licensing of the stadium. The agreement would allow the league use of the facility from the beginning of December until the middle of January.
The university will relinquish control of ticketing and parking to the NHL by leasing the stadium to the league, but will maintain control over game operations. According to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, the NHL's charitable foundation will make a sizable contribution to fund student scholarships.
Brandon said that most Wolverine football games generate $14 million for the surrounding area. He believes that the Winter Classic could far surpass that number.
"I think we'll bring in more of a national crowd for this," said Brandon. "The fact that many people will be traveling in for New Year's Eve and spending New Year's Eve in the surrounding area will be significant."
All previous Winter Classics have been played in stadiums that are home to professional sports teams, such as Fenway Park and Heinz Field. Michigan Stadium has a capacity of 109,901, but organizers believe that the game has the potential to draw over 110,000 fans.
This game will not be the first time that the Big House has played host to a large outdoor hockey game. In Dec. 2010, the University of Michigan took on the Michigan State Spartans in a game known as the "Big Chill." It drew 104,173 fans, which set a Guinness Book of World Records mark.
Additionally, Comerica Park in Detroit will be converted into a hockey rink. The ballpark will play host to the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, the minor league affiliates of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Michigan and Michigan State are also expected to play at Comerica that weekend, and organizers have not ruled out the possibility that the alumni game between the Wings and Leafs could be played at the venue.
Reach Steven by email.