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Posted on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:53 a.m.

NHL's annual outdoor Winter Classic will be at Michigan Stadium

By Staff


The NHL Winter Classic will be played at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, 2013, sources tell file photo

Outdoor hockey is returning to Michigan Stadium, and this time it's the NHL's show.

The Detroit Red Wings will face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1, 2013 in the annual NHL Winter Classic, Ansar Khan reported for, citing an anonymous source.


The Red Wings lobbied to have the game at Comerica Park, but the NHL couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hold this annual outdoor spectacle at "The Big House," where it is expected to attract a record crowd in excess of 110,000. To appease Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, a rink will be constructed at Comerica Park. The home of the Detroit Tigers will host other events leading up to the Winter Classic, including the alumni game and possibly the Great Lakes Invitational.

Michigan Stadium was the site of "The Big Chill at the Big House" on Dec. 11, 2010, when a Guinness World Records crowd of 104,173 watched the Michigan hockey team beat Michigan State, 5-0. reported that an official announcement on the NHL Winter Classic is expected in February. The NHL attendance record for the Winter Classic was set in 2008 in Buffalo when 71,217 watched the Buffalo Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This year at the NHL Winter Classic, New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park.


Kai Petainen

Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;NHL denies Winter Classic deal is done &quot;. david shoalts about alcohol, Ilitch, comerica park, etc &quot;In response to a report Wednesday morning on a Michigan web site,, that a deal was completed, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail message "if and when anything is a 'done deal' regarding the Winter Classic, it will be announced. We have made no announcements yet."


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 5:24 a.m.

Does this mean the alcohol issue has been resolved to sell beer at the big house? If drinking beer in 10 degree weather is fun :+} That was supposed to be what was holding up the decision earlier??

Kai Petainen

Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 3:47 a.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;gate receipts topped $4 million&quot; &quot;Seen more than a couple of weeks in the rear-view, NHL alumni and their advocates contacted by the Star are expressing emotions ranging from disappointment to mild disgust that the ex-players who commanded the crowd didn't receive a more substantial chunk of the proceeds. "It's not about need. It's about principle. The alumni should be getting a share of this money," &quot;it's expected that Red Wings-Maple Leafs — with the feature match taking place at the University of Michigan's famed football stadium and its 100,000-plus capacity — will break all attendance and revenue records. Certainly an alumni game featuring Detroit and Toronto legends will be a draw; according to sources in Detroit, organizers are considering holding the alumni game and other events on a separate sheet of ice at Comerica Park&quot;


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

No matter whether UofM is in a bowl game or not this will sell out instantly. toronto will be a huge draw will easily bring 50000 fans if wings fans arent smart enough to buy the tickets. This will be the largest amount of people to see a nhl game easily and might break the record of the uofm game.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

I think it will certainly break the Big Chill's record. Stadium capacity is 110,000, and they'll sell every single seat. The Chill's attendance was 104,000.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

NHL game at the big house, awesome! GLI at Comerica Park -- no way -- sitting outside in the freezing cold for a one-time event can be great fun...for about two periods...(Those of us who were at the Big House for the UM/MSU hockey game know that 2/3 of the crowd was gone by the 3rd period)... But GLI -- 7 hours of hockey outside in freezing cold? No way -- pure misery. Give me my nice heated JLA, and I'm happy as a clam. Move the GLI to an outdoor stadium -- they'll lose my season tickets for college hockey at the Joe.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

While in high school in Madison, Wisconsin, I played hockey - all on outdoor rinks, there were no arenas back then. UW had one, but that's all. Needless to say, even though we were state champions, the crowds were pretty much the players themselves - we had to be there. Being state champions back then wasn't such a big deal though - there were only five competing hockey teams in the state (at least that we played). Three Madison schools and Eagle River and Rhineland from the hinterland up north. There are many reasons one might have to freeze in the cold - watching a hockey game isn't one of them.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

que the endless coverage of this overblown, over-hyped gimmicky trend that serves to only lessen the signifigance (and news covereage) of normal games... oh, and yes, more &quot;Guinness World Records&quot; that hope to be broken for categories that did not exist 4-5 years ago and have less than 10 entries to compete with yaaawn


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

Before I attended the Cold War at Spartan Stadium in 2001, the previous Guinness World Record for hockey attendance was 60,000 (or so) at an outdoor stadium in Russia. So, the record isn't as new as you claim. Furthermore, as gimmicky as these outdoor games may be, they do generate interest in the sport overall, and let's not forget the huge publicity this brings to our sleepy little town.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

This game will set the all-time attendance record for a professional hockey game, and will likely not be broken until they decide to expand Michigan Stadium again. Those who say the game attendance will be negatively affected by the wolverines possible appearance in a bowl game clearly have no idea of the rabid enthusiasm of hockey fans, particularly the Maple Leafs nation. We're talking about a team that has sold out every home game they've played for 2+ decades, a team whose fans haven't seen the Stanley Cup come to their town in the last 40 years. Most of the 6.2m people in the greater Toronto area (most of whom are Leafs fans) never get the chance to see a game at the Air Canada Centre, due to high ticket prices and low availability. They'll jump at the chance to be at this game. Give Dave Brandon credit, if he is responsible for this brilliant idea. If you're planning a romantic evening at a local hotel for NYE 2011, reserve your room now!


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Oops, make that NYE 2012. I wish posts could be edited on this site...

Kai Petainen

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;The league's most valuable team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, is now worth $521 million and generated $81.8 million in operating income last season. &quot; oh... they will come. it will sell out. &quot;Thus the top three teams posted an aggregate operating profit greater than the rest of the league combined.&quot;


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Anyone who doesn't think this will sell out clearly doesn't know hockey or NHL hockey fans, or for that matter - Leafs fans. Most of them could care less that UM might be playing a bowl game. This will sell out, guaranteed. And kudos to getting the game at a football stadium - ballparks are absolutely awful for fans attending the Winter Classic (I've been to one). While it may make a feelgood story for TV, the sight lines are terrible, the angles are terrible and fans pay out the nose for something completely inferior to what they'd get at home or a bar.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

The game should clearly be played on the Detroit River, in neutral, international waters. The Ambassador Bridge would provide a much better bird's eye view than the top row of Michigan Stadium. Let's just hope it's not 50 degrees and raining in 2013 like it was here in 2011 and 2012.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

That's a great idea, until Matty Maroun's rickety old bridge collapses under the combined weight of the Wings fans and Leafs Nation.

Robert J

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

I think the game would be better at Comerica Park. Unless they price the tickets very reasonably they wont even be close to 110,000. I also think having it on new years day will hurt attendance. They should have it the weekend before the super bowl when football and hockey fans have nothing else to do.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

You clearly don't know the rabid fan base of the Wings and the will sell out the Big House faster than any other single even ever held there....


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

You're kidding, right? No matter how big of a sports fan you think you are, your enthusiasm just can't compare to the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have bought every ticket for every home game in the last 20 years, to watch a team that hasn't won the Stanley Cup in 4 decades. If local fans don't order tickets the instant they go on sale, every person in Michigan Stadium will be wearing a different shade of Blue on 1/1/13


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

This will be the hottest ticket in town.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

It will be the hottest ticket in 2 countries.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

AWESOME! Amazing news. When do tickets go on sale? Will it sell out? Absolutely. You have no idea as to how passionate Maple Leaf fans are. They will come from Toronto and from across southern Ontario. This will bring in a lot of people from Canada.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

One thing that seems to be overlooked in this plan is that Ann Arbor is a ghost town from about December 22nd through the 4th or 5th of January. The Big Chill worked because most of the attendees were UM students, at least from where I was sitting (and not in the student section...) The students that they'll need to fill the place up will for the most part be gone on New Year's Day, and, if the football team has another successful year, be looking to warmer climes for a bowl game, not to frozen Michigan for pro hockey.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 1:39 a.m.

You raise an excellent point, Halter; if the snow is too deep, there's no way they'll be able to park any cars at the golf course or on the lawn at Pioneer High. I'd imagine parking at Briarwood and shuttling people to the game would be the best solution for some of the cars, though I'm not even sure if their lots could hold them all.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

The student body will have ZERO impact on the attendance at this game -- this is ot designed for UM, or the people of Ann Arbor.... More of a concern: where will they park all those cars -- there will be more out of the area cars than any event ever held at the Big House specifically because it is NOT geared to the local/UM crowd -- that means everyone will be driving to the game instead of walking to the game...


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

No students will be needed to fill the stadium, because even if you didn't sell a single ticket to anyone in the metro Detroit area, this game will still sell out. Leafs Nation is made up of the most diehard fans in the history of sports. You could put the ticket on sale at one venue in downtown Toronto, and they'd sell out in a matter of hours.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Do you understand that MOST Red Wings fans do not live in Detroit? Many live downriver, or in Toledo, or in suburbs. In fact., I bet if you took a sampling, there are very few actual Detroiters in a typical Red Wing crowd. The fact that these are people from OUT of Ann Arbor, during a very slow business time is a GOOD thing. Those out of towners need to eat, some may sleep here, some may even shop here. If you can not see the big picture, you really need to get educated


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5 p.m.

I'm happy to see that common sense prevailed and that the game will be in Ann Arbor. This IS a big coup for Ann Arbor &amp; UM, and it will be a great showcase for the NHL. Maybe they can have some of the USA Hockey teams that play at the ice cube play on the surface, too.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 5 p.m.

So, if UM is in a NYD Bowl game next year, how empty will that stadium look. I Agree with MGOBLOG, if Dave Brandon can make $1 doing something, he willdo it. Even if it means competition to UM athletics.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

UM will have ZERO impact on the attendance of this game -- it's not being geared to UM fans, or to the people of Ann Arbor -- Toronto fans alone could sell out the stadium....people just don't understand the importance of this event, and the fact that UM actually has zero role in this event


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

I don't know how much I like the idea but... Michigans ticket allotment to the Sugar Bowl was 17,500 tickets. Hardly half of what the stadium holds.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

If U-M football is in a bowl game on 1/1/2013, the big house will be half empty. Besides, I doubt this game will match the attendance record the Big Chill of 2010 between U-M &amp; MSU.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

There is no way on God's green earth that this will fail to be a sellout. The announcement barely hit and I was inaundated by friends and family wanting me to get them tickets. True, I know a lot of hardcore Wings fans but there are more Wings fans than UofM and MSU hockey fans combined in SE Michigan alone, and people will come from all over the world for this game, mark my words! The Big Chill record will be toast regardless of what game the football team is in.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

You do not understand the makeup of the audience for this game at all -- UM will have zero impact on attendance -- it will sell out within hours without a single effort made to sell tickets to UM or its community.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Don't kid yourself. Toronto fans will snap up at least 1/2 those tickets an hour after they go on sale. Have you ever been to a Wings/Leafs game at Joe Louis? 1/2 the arena is wearing blue jerseys, and there would be twice as many of them if there weren't so many season ticket holders at the Joe. I'm sure there's some overlap between wolverine and Red Wings fans in SE Michigan, but that will not make a difference to the attendance of this game.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Michigans ticket allotment to the Sugar Bowl was 17,500 tickets. Hardly half of what the stadium holds.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

This is GREAT news! not only do we get a winter classic, it further cements Ann Arbor as the hockey Mecca of the U.S. If HBO does nhl 24/7 again next year &quot;great show&quot; it will be featuring the Wings! at the big house! cmon....... what's not to like there?


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Hockey Mecca of the U.S.? seriously? I know you qualify it with &quot;as the US&quot; but its not like we are far from Canada, where there is no qualifier needed just Hockey Mecca. Additionally, if you do the research there are areas with far higher participation rates of amateur hockey players then in the Ann Arbor area.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4 p.m.

not good idea. I don't like how Dave Brandon is &quot;branding&quot; U of M. From ugly uniforms to a hockey game on New Years? What happens if Michigan is in the Rose Bowl next year? That stadium will be 2/3 empty. That would be embarrASSing.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

Why on earth would anyone think that playing host to the largest crowd in the history of hockey will do anything but good things for the city of Ann Arbor? Make no mistake, this game will sell out, and sell out fast. They don't need to sell a single ticket to anyone even remotely interested in wolverine football. They just need to set up a lemonade stand on Yonge Street in Toronto with all 110,000 tickets for sale, and every last one will be gone by dinnertime.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Nobody wants to play on New Years Day anymore. The bowl I'm setting my hopes on is played Jan 7 or 8 next year - The Championship Game! I also wonder if they will give Michigan football and Hockey season ticket holders any advance purchasing like they did with the Big Chill?


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

sell out like the cold war?

Pete Cunningham

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

Michigan/Detroit fans might not turn out if the Michigan football team is in a New Years Day bowl, but you are discounting one of the more rabid fan bases in North America: Maple Leafs fans. The game will sell out regardless of where it is and I guarantee the majority of the seats will be filled by Toronto fans.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Awesome ...can't wait for some good ol outdoor hockey.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 3 p.m.

I think it's a bad idea. It takes away from the what was accomplished with the Big Chill and a culmination of what Red has done for Michigan Hockey. The Big House is Michigan, it's not the Red Wings.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

How is putting Ann Arbor in the international spotlight, to host what will easily be the biggest hockey game ever, a bad idea? Who cares if the Big Chill's record is broken? Michigan Stadium will still be the place that holds the record. There's no doubt in my mind that Red Berenson would be in favor of this game happening here. Besides the obvious benefits for the town, the school, and the sport of hockey, his program will surely benefit from the spotlight on his corner of the world.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

Well, since Red played for both Michigan and the Red Wings maybe should ask his opinion.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Many UM hockey players that left early for the NHL, and those that didn't are probably geeked up about this. There is no reason why we should be so parochial as to think that the 99% of the time empty stadium can't be used for other special events. Toronto fans will swarm in, and I'll be able to walk to the stadium from my house and watch something quite special.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

An anonymous source told me that Snoop Dogg will be singing the National Anthem.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Now all the NHL needs to do is realize they are a niche sport and move the game to the Sunday before the Superbowl when all they need to compete with is the NBA, fast becoming a niche sport as well.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Wonder how many tickets NBC and the NHL will get for their generators idiling?


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

My guess is 80 to 85,000. Thinking 110,000 is unreal and I would have to see it to believe it. It would be better if the event were held at Comerica Park.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

You're dead wrong, MRunner. Between the 1000s of local hockey fans and the Maple Leafs diehards who can't get tickets to a game at the Air Canada Center, they won't have any trouble selling every last seat in the stadium. Keep in mind that we're talking about a game featuring one of the NHL's perennial best teams, and one with the most dedicated fanbases ever. There is rarely a Leafs game in Toronto that hasn't sold out, for a team that hasn't won the Stanley Cup in over 40 years.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

My guess is you are wrong. Take into account the opponent and the day of the game. Do you think a few Torontonians, or those from Windsor would be willing to make the trip to come see their hockey team? If not, you obviously know nothing about hockey in Ontario. The Maple Leafs averaged 19354 people per game lat season. That is 102.9% of capacity for a team that has not made the playoffs for 6 consecutive years. I would bet there is plenty of demand in Windsor and towns east to see an outdoor hockey game featuring the original 6 on a holiday


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I disagree, 104,000 for the MSU game. And there are tons of people that have never had a chance to see the wings. Time will tell.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Detroit needs this game more than Ann Arbor. It needs the tourism more than Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Awesome &amp; very exciting! Sign me up for tickets.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Now the Stadium Bridge will be on display for the whole world to see!

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

No worries, no one will be watching. Besides, &quot;the bridge&quot; is gone!


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Will it be ready by then?


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

red wings are a detroit team. they should play in detroit. bring revenue into the city. While I see the financial benefit this brings to ann arbor, I'd rather see college teams playing in the big house. not keen on padding illitch's already stuffed pocket, but would rather see this happen in the D. For once, I agree with Valenti.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

To say they are a Detroit team is silly. Does that mean the Detroit Pistons are a Detroit Team? Um played a basketball game at the Palace. The hockey team makes yearly trip to Joe Louis. This is a ONE OFF event. I see nothing wrong with this in any way


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Your both kinda wrong. The NHL actually buys the home game from the red wings. i am not sure about concession sales though, and it will be interesting to see if they get a one day liquor license


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

bunny- why should a pro-sports Detroit team play at the Big House, a college venue, other than to make money by playing in a venue with maximum capacity? Your statement about Detroit, aside from being frankly, an uninformed opinion, further supports my point. If they're a Detroit-based team, they should play there. If for no other reason than to &quot;bring something exciting&quot; to Detroit. Besides, Illitch wants them to play in Comerica Park and make $$ for him. It's not an outlandish deduction--he is a businessman, after all.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

I just have to say that Illitch does donate a lot. Also, there really isn't much exciting about Detroit other than major sports. His &quot;stuffed&quot; pocket has done much for the area.


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

Great news, but I will believe it when I see it offical...