Excitement builds for Big Chill at the Big House with merchandise sales and as schedule is announced
The Big Chill at the Big House may be a month away, but the game's popularity -- at least from a merchandising standpoint -- is picking up steam.
The Michigan hockey team's outdoor showdown with rival Michigan State on Dec. 11 is unique itself, but Dave Hirth, co-owner of Ann Arbor-based M-Den said the event carries a lot of weight.
"It's the closest thing to a bowl game we have here, just because it's such a signature event," Hirth said Friday. "It's going to be huge."
The M-Den offers a full line of Big Chill merchandise, including having the exclusive rights to the official puck that will be used in next month's game. The store also offers an array of t-shirts, sweatshirts and other souvenirs, all which bear the logo from the event that is expected to draw a world record crowd.
The game is sold out and is expected to draw between 105,000 and 110,000 fans. The first outdoor meeting between Michigan and Michigan State, which took place in East Lansing in 2001, drew nearly 75,000.
The jerseys Michigan players will wear for next month's game went on sale today, the latest item to be unveiled in preparation for the Big Chill event. The jersey, which retails for $90, is a replica of the sweater the Wolverines wore between 1945 and 1948.
The jersey, which bears the image of a Wolverine and has stripes on both shoulders, will also include the Big Chill at the Big House logo.
"I think it's a great idea that we're using a throwback-style jersey," Michigan coach Red Berenson said in a statement Friday. "It gives our fans the idea part of the history of the program and what the team looked like.
"I think our players will be excited to wear them."
The sweater will be available at the M-Den location at Yost Ice Arena beginning tonight when Michigan hosts first-place Notre Dame in the first of two games this weekend.
The M-Den sells between 500 and 800 jerseys each year with each of the three variety of jerseys Michigan players wear being popular. But Hirth said because of the uniqueness of the jersey and the event it's linked to, it could be a popular seller.
Up until now, Big Chill items have attracted steady sales. But Hirth expects the majority of sales at his store to remain with Michigan football, especially with the excitement that last weekend's 67-65 win over Illinois generated.
But after the Wolverines close out their home schedule next weekend against Purdue, Hirth expects Big Chill sales to pick up.
"Once they start getting the stadium ready, I think it will become much more high profile," Hirth said.
Hockey week in Ann Arbor Michigan officials announced this week that the Big Chill at the Big House will include 25 high school, college and club games in the week leading up to the main event.
Adrian College's hockey team will kick off the festivities, facing Concordia (Wis.) College on Dec. 4, the first of four games that will be played that day.
"This is an outstanding opportunity to showcase our men's hockey team," Adrian athletic director Mike Duffy said in a statement. "NCAA Division III student-athletes work very hard and to reward them with an opportunity to play in a venue like the Big House may only come along once in a lifetime. This will be a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives."
Pioneer High School's girls hockey team will be the first area prep team to play at Michigan Stadium, facing Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett on Sunday, when high school hockey takes center stage.
Skyline will face off against Father Gabriel Richard that afternoon, the first game in a triple-header that will also include Saline playing Pioneer and Huron closing out the night against Dexter.
The rest of the week's schedule includes a mix of games involving both men's and women's travel hockey teams and college travel teams.
The week will also include a public skate, but details have not been finalized.