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Posted on Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Dave Brandon talks with NHL about 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium

By Pete Cunningham


Michigan Stadium is a potential venue for the 2013 NHL Winter Classic. file photo

File updated at 9:30 p.m.

The next outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium may feature National Hockey League teams.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon confirmed Thursday that he has been approached by the NHL about playing host for the Winter Classic, in what would be the league's sixth annual New Year's Day outdoor game.

"We have been approached by the NHL about utilizing our facility for the 2013 Winter Classic," Brandon said in a statement. "There are a lot of complex circumstances that need to be ironed out before anything moves forward. We will have more to say if/when something materializes."

The NHL has yet to announce which teams would play in next year's Winter Classic, but the fact that Brandon has been approached suggests rumors about the Detroit Red Wings being eyed as potential participants to be true. The Red Wings played against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic played at Wrigley Field.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has delayed his announcement of participants in the past. He didn't name the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers as the 2012 participants until Sept. 25, 2011.

NHL vice president of communications John Dellapina declined to comment on the NHL's interest in playing at the Big House.

"We don't comment about potential sites for specific Winter Classics until contracts are signed," Dellapina said in an email.

The Red Wings are owned by Mike Ilitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Park, so among the complex circumstances that would need to be ironed out are how the profits would be split — be it from ticket sales, merchandise, vending, television rights, etc. — in an outside venue.

The obvious draw of Michigan Stadium is its capacity, officially listed as 109,901 but with a record attendance of 114,804. The attendance for the 2010 outdoor hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State (The Big Chill at the Big House) was 104,173, a world record and more than double the official capacity of Comerica Park (41,255).

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

This stinks of corporate GREED!!! I went to the Big Chill last December and while it was fun, you are way too far away from the action to really see what is going on. And that game was on bigger, Olympic size ice, i believe. In addition, I went to the game at Wrigley field in 2009, and it was an awesome experience. It seems that if they are trying to increase revenue by the larger crowd, they could just raise the price for the Comerica venue. The seats I had in 2009 were in the back part of the lower deck in Wrigley, and they cost 225 dollars face, the upper deck actually cost more, they could see better! Having the game in Ann Arbor would ruin any "Detroit based events" for the local economy because, really.... there arent a lot of places to hang out before the game near the football stadium. Imagine what the downtown "Illitch-ville" area would be like the weekend of the Winter Classic if the game was to be played at Comerica Park. Shame on Bettman.... I really thought he might have something going with this event untill now.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

Tim, NHL would need to trot out a couple of bright orange or bright pink pucks and dye the hockey rink into black and for Brandon to install temporary black or purple lights. :)


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Your better off watching the game on tv--- UM stadium is way too big to watch hockey. Can you even see the puck?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

No, you cant see the puck!


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

That's why they have the ginormous screens on each end, it's like watching a Wings game with 100,000 of your closest friends!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Do it, but cap the attendance at 100K. I love the Wings, but I don't want them to steal the world record for attendance from the Maize and Blue!

Joe Zurawski

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

I don't think anyone other than the Maize and Blue would draw that many in the first place.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Sounds good, but, they really need to do it after the bowl games. Michigna probably we be at a bowl game sometime that week and if they are at the Rose Bowl that day. If that happens they will have issues selling it out.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

RudeJude, I am a drinker but do agree with you about not allowing alcohol at college venues.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

I imbibe from time to time, I just don't want it to change the generally well-mannered crowds at the Michigan games.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

After reading the comments in here, I have a suggestion. Schedule TWO games aka a doubleheader for the Big House: Wings vs Jackets Wolverines vs Buckeyes or Wings vs Blackhawks or Leafs Wolverines vs ELCC or ND


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Or better yet, the Red Wings/Wolverines teams against the little brothers.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

Leaf's and Wings!

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:42 a.m.

Story has been updated with a comment from NHL vice president of communication John Dellapina who said, "we don't comment about potential sites for specific Winter Classics until contracts are signed."

Terry Star21

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

Worst idea I have ever heard - This is the Michigan Football stadium for God's sake. MgoBlueForTiM....less advertising, promoting - just Michigan football.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

It's Gary Bettman so the teams are going to be the Panthers vs Coyotes.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

LOL No doubt.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

Awesome news! It would be a win-win for the NHL, A2, U-M, and local businesses...and most importantly, hockey fans.

Johnny Smith

Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

looks like another new outlet is confirming it to Michigan . . . <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

Even if there is somewhat of an agreement in principle, there is no way this is a done deal yet. That site has been wrong in the past for sports rumors, so I won't believe this until it comes from a more credible source.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Note to David Brandon: If you do &quot;special events&quot; at the big house every year, and if you have &quot;special jerseys&quot; 2-3 x/year, they cease being special.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding the jerseys. I also agree that special events like the Bill Chill and nigh football games shouldn't be repeated every year. However, I think it's good to do DIFFERENT special events on a more frequent basis. The NHL Winter Classic seems to qualify as such a different special event. Michigan Stadium is simply too big of a resource for the University to only use it 8 (or so) times each year. I'd like to see more concerts and non-athletic events held there, or World Cup or Olympic sports at some time.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

As a downtown shop owner I say do it (I just want it to be the Wings in it). It is good for downtown businesses, retail, restaurant and hotels. As it is on a holiday a lot of families could attend. With the cost of what it was to build the stadium Dave Brandon should be trying to book as many big time games as he can. Get a Pro Football game booked, get World Cup Soccor. Don't care, just book it and get the people to come to town to spend some money. As far as the issue of alcohol get a one day license and sell beer. Do what they do at Comerica, designated drivers get a special wrist band, sign a form stating they won't drink and get a free soda. There is no reason why a stadium of that size should get limited use of 10 days or less a year. A lot of people that can't attend Michigan games because they work every Saturday (like me) would like the chance to see a Wing's game at the Big House.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

A gift from the NHL. Yes, play Toronto, then add the GLI. Only problem is, the football might be playing in a bowl game that day.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

EXCELLENT idea about the GLI - it would add a ton of exposure to a great tournament.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.


David Vande Bunte

Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Obviously, any NHL game played at the Big House would naturally have to include the Red simply couldn't have a game there without the in-state team. But, in recognition of the fact that it's a college stadium, there can only be ONE appropriate opponent. The Columbus Blue Jackets, naturally. Just kidding. I want to see an Original 6 matchup between the Wings and the Leafs. The matchup makes a lot of sense. Given the size of the Big House, you need to guarantee you can pack the place...and the distance between Toronto and Ann Arbor is close enough where you will probably get a lot of fans making the trip. I just don't want to see the Blackhawks. Been there, done that already.

Joe Zurawski

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

I like the kidding about CBJ! It MUST be an &quot;Original Six&quot; team - preferably Toronto!


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

Leafs...the history cannot be matched anywhere. So many books have been written on that history. The great failure of Betteman has been to ignore the financial opportunities of great historical rivalries.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Please I don't care which venue but let it be Wings vs Leafs.....PLEASE.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 4:18 a.m.

My God yes that is the only reasonable choice.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

No, the Leafs are staying in the east. UNFORTUNATELY!!!!!


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

Are the Red Wings going to be in the same Quadrant/Pod/Division/Whatever as the Leafs?


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Alcohol sales are becoming more and more popular at college games. Brandon will get a one-day license. Sales will probably approach $1 million. And then alcohol will be sold at Michigan home games in the 2014 season. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> As far as Michigan Stadium being a half-hour out of the city, most Red Wings fans do not live in the city of Detroit. Would they serve Dominos or Little Caesars pizza is probably the biggest complicating factor. If I were the NHL I would think about scheduling the game against Toronto instead of Chicago.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

both Dominos and Little Caesars pizza is NASTY and I don't understand why anyone wants to eat anything while someone elses elbows are stuck in both sides of ya.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Wow, misread the article, it might make Michigan 200k a year. Miniscule pay if you ask me.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

It's nowhere near the $1 million dollar mark per game though. The it would bring in probably 700-900k a YEAR. IT could still be worth it for them though.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> If four schools are doing it, then I'm sure the others are a step or two away. That'll be a sad day.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

I didn't say you're wrong, just said &quot;I hope...&quot;, I wonder if it will happen though. They haven't put up billboards in Michigan Stadium yet. I'm sure there is much more money in alcohol than in advertising. Have any other Big Ten schools allowed alcohol? Does the Big Ten have any rules regarding alcohol?


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

Rude, it's all about revenue streams and alcohol sales are still an &quot;untapped&quot; source.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

I'm fine with it at a one-time NHL event, but I hope liquor is never sold at Michigan Stadium during football season. I hate going to the Lion's games simply because of the massive amount of drunks. I understand people tailgate before Michigan games, but I rarely see those outright drunk at the game. Ford Field is a drunk disaster.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

I do hope this event ends up being held at Comerica in Detroit. First of all, no alcohol sales in the Big House! Really not a problem for College events where it is understood that alcohol is not sold, but this is the NHL! On top of that, the Red Wings are a Detroit team, and playing this game a half hour out of the city seems like a bad idea to me. Also, Comerica Park is owned by Mike Illich, and I would have to think that he wants to use his own facility for his team to play in rather than someone elses! I did attend the Big Chill, great event.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Love it. Another fun event that will bring money into the Ann Arbor economy and shine the spotlight on, assumingly, the Red Wings and the University of Michigan.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Mr. Brandon, Tell them no thanks and they can do it at Comerica Park, besides, we Red Wings fans, are afraid that you might try to redesign the Red Wings' classic uniforms.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

You mean with a weird red &amp; white stripe, maybe? They did that already. Check the last Winter Classic uniforms that the Wings wore.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

Yes, the uniform designs can stay home. The ones worn at the Sugar Bowl looked sloppy. I loved the ones at the ND game, but it's been downhill afterwards. What I did like was the addition of the American flag patch on the uniform worn in the Nebraska and Ohio State games, maybe another too. I wish that would become a permanent fixture on our normal uniforms. The helmet numbers are fine, too, but no more old-timey uniforms.