You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Michigan regents approve alcohol sale at Michigan Stadium for NHL Winter Classic...again

By Kellie Woodhouse


The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a proposal to seek a liquor license from the State of Michigan for the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

University of Michigan will seek special permission to allow alcohol in Michigan Stadium when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs face off during the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

Have that deja vu feeling?

The Michigan Board of Regents unanimously approved an application for a temporary liquor license that would allow beer to be sold at the Jan. 1, 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium at the their meeting on Thursday.

Last year, the school -also with unanimous approval from the eight-member Board of Regents- lobbied state lawmakers to pass HB 5611 and allow temporary 30-day licenses to be granted for venues such as Michigan Stadium for certain events not affiliated with the school, such as the 2013 NHL Winter Classic. The bill passed, a temporary license was granted and beer was scheduled to be served in the normally dry venue.

But when the Winter Classic was cancelled due to the NHL Lockout, the temporary license was rendered useless.

Earlier this year the NHL scheduled the 2014 Winter Classic for Michigan Stadium, agreeing again to pay U-M $3 million for use of its facilities.

So, once again, U-M's governing board has approved a request for a permission for its concessionaire to serve alcohol in the Big House during the event, using modifications to the Michigan Liquor Control Code approved in the passage of HB 5611. Prior to the bill, venues as large as the Big House couldn't get temporary licenses.

"We did this once before, we're trying once again," said U-M chief financial officer Timothy Slottow on Thursday.

The license is likely to be approved.

Liquor sales are normally forbidden at the facility, and U-M leaders have said they have no intention of changing that policy for university-sanctioned events.

Ann Arbor and school officials estimated that the event would have a $14 to $15 million impact on the area, with anywhere between 3,000 and 6,000 hotel nights booked by visitors.

The NHL is hoping that Michigan Stadium, with a capacity of more than 114,000, can facilitate the largest Winter Classic attendance in history. The world record for attendance at a hockey game is 104,173, a record set at the outdoor game between Michigan and Michigan State in 2010.

The NHL also plans on breaking the Michigan Stadium attendance record of 114,804.

Kellie Woodhouse is reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Wouldn't be a party without Ethyl, she brings out the best in people


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

In it bid to help the illegal, I mean "unauthorized" immigrants. The U of M should make sure that anyone who was brought to this country "unauthorized" by their parents as a child should be able to drink alcohol at the stadium if their country of birth has a lower drinking age than ours. After all you can't make the kids of "unauthorized" immigrants pay for their parents mistakes.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

I hope that alcohol will not be served during the last hour of the game. Ann Arborites will be wise to vacate the streets as the game ends and the crowd stumbles to their cars.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

Hi Kellie, any word on tickets? I signed up for the NHL ticket "updates" but just get spammed with Sidney Crosby "highlights" and Bettman propaganda.

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Try checking this link:


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

There are several fine brewpubs right here in Ann Arbor. Let's showcase those!


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

If you try to force anything but Molson on 60,000 Canadian hockey fans, there is going to be trouble. I am not sure the brewpubs could handle the demand. Perhaps a limited supply at a booth might make sense.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

The U should add heated seat cushions for this game. With a nominal charge of $25/per seat.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

I did not go to the Big Chill, so I can't speak for hockey in the Big House. I have been in the Big House many times for UM football and can say that there was not much sitting on a cushion with your hands folded in your lap. Why $25? Is that the market price for a warm butt?

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 8:20 a.m.

Not a bad idea, Tag. But it wouldn't be U of M selling the cushions or making the money. Michigan is making $3 million on renting the facility and that's it. It's the NHL's rodeo after that.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

I don't drink but I love hockey and I love the Red Wings. I will do my best to secure myself some tickets for this game as I had a blast at the Big Chill. If others want to drink during the game, who am I to stop them or disagree with their decision. I will be enjoying an ice cold Coca-Cola regardless. Go Wings!


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

We've already got our tickets reserved and thinking about going is helping me stay cool during this hot spell.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

Oh good maybe people won't notice that they are sitting outside in the middle of winter freezing their rear ends off.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

Oh yeah, gotta have the booze flowing or the game isn't worth watching.

Tom Joad

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Disappointed at this decision. Professional hockey = alcohol Alcohol = professional hockey There are already a plethora of drinking establishments in the city to serve the pre and after game alcoholic festivities. Plying the crowd with booze is just going to make them loud and belligerent. January 1 is also capable of crippling cold temperatures and as anyone knows alcohol and cold temperatures do not mix. It thins your blood and subjects you to potential frostbite.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

So, which is it; "loud and belligerent" or frostbitten? Besides, a lot of "loud" and a little "belligerent" is how I like my hockey.

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

I do know that the NHL agreeing to have the event at the Big House was contingent on the school being able to garner a temporary liquor license.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Wow, Tom. Have you never been to a professional sporting event? Who in their right mind would stand outside to watch hockey without access to booze? Haha.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

Being a Red Wings season ticket holder it has been my observation that the hockey fans at Joe Louis are way more well behaved than some Michigan football fans. I have seen plenty of belligerent drunks at The Big House, a place that doesn't sell alcohol compared to Wings games that does sell it.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

There might be a riot if 60,000 Canadians showed up to a hockey game and weren't allowed to buy a beer, Tom. Serving beer is probably a safer move. Vancouver riots from a couple years ago aside, my casual observation is that hockey crowds, be it for outdoor games or whatever, seem to hold their booze, or exercise a little more self control than football crowds. Nothing scientific about that, just my two cents.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

Are they going to close Main St?

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:45 a.m.

If the logic is the large crowds/ security threat, I would think so. As long as the city council approves the closure allowance.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

Not sure about closing Main St. for the game, but last year a big New Year's Eve Party was planned that was going to cause the streets to be shut down. I believe that's in the works again. I'll have to follow up, though.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

Although the game will probably feature the usual stadium beer options, I'm wondering which beer/breweries they would like to see sold at the game if it were up to them. Actually, I think it would be an awesome event to have a beer festival on the field around the rink the weekend before or after, it may encourage some of those Canadians to stick around a few extra days.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

A stadium of Canadians for the purpose of drinking beer. What could go wrong?

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

What about some Oberon for some irony? Other than that, I'm thinking Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald...


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Bell's for the win(ter) classic.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

oops...I might be wrong on the two-night stay. The Holiday Inn-Briarwood is charging $329 a night for a normal $90 room.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Most hotels will probably require a two-night stay. That will keep some people around in the middle of the week.