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Rumors heat up regarding University of Michigan hosting 2013 Winter Classic

Jan 11, 2012, 8:35 PM EDT

Big Chill - Michigan State v Michigan Getty Images

There was already some well-founded speculation that the University of Michigan might be in the running to host the 2013 Winter Classic, but those murmurs are building to a rumble as Puck Daddy’s Jeff Arnold reports that the NHL and the college are in “advanced discussions” to bring the marquee event to the Big House.

Arnold’s anonymous source said that Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was “not initially sold” on the idea but things progressed in the last few weeks “from looking like it could happen to [a point where] it probably will.”

Naturally, that statement wasn’t made on the record but a Michigan official did admit that they’re “listening” to what the NHL has to say.

Big stage for the marquee event

The lure of holding the event in the huge, historic building is simple to the point of bluntness: the football stadium has the potential to pack in fans to a record-breaking level. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded the most highly-attended hockey game at the Big House in 2011:

In 2011, Michigan Stadium hosted The Big Chill At The Big House, pitting college hockey rivals Michigan and Michigan State in the first outdoor game of its kind in Ann Arbor. The Guinness Book of World Records was on  hand to officially calculate attendance, announcing a world record had  been set with an official attendance of 104,173 fans.

The overall attendance record is 114,804 fans, which was a number established during a night college football game between Michigan and Notre Dame, according to Arnold.

Potential issues

Obviously, there’s a big leap between talks heating up and it actually coming to fruition. Here are a few hurdles that one or both sides need to clear:

  • Michigan’s financial takeaway must be determined. (This factor justifies the speculation that the event might take place at Comerica Park, instead.)
  • A source told Arnold that the Winter Classic would likely be the only game played at Michigan Stadium, which could be a drawback (although it would be hard to imagine there being no workaround whatsoever for that).
  • The NHL would be responsible for building the rink, which didn’t happen at the NCAA outdoor game. (Something tells me the league has that base covered, though.)

Of those aforementioned factors, Michigan’s money cut sounds like the only real stumbling block, but that can obviously be a big one. Many of us are pretty happy with the Winter Classic regardless of the exact details, but let’s face it; there would definitely be something special about seeing such an event played in front of hundreds of thousands.

It’s quite possible that the NHL might reveal the location of the next Winter Classic during this month’s All-Star weekend, but we’ll see. How would you feel about the league’s marquee regular season event happening in the Big House, though?

  1. Tom G - Jan 11, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Sharks vs Wings!Jan 1,2013..*best Tim Gunn voice*MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

  2. nhlbruins90 - Jan 11, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Go for the Big House. Another baseball park won’t cut it. Think big.

  3. kiopta1 - Jan 11, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    The big house would be great and only a few hours from me.

  4. brockohol - Jan 11, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    wings/blues big house!!!! I “thought” behind/Canadians made the most sense but the java arraigned bad there is no story line there

  5. yettyskills - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Too bad Columbus sucks

  6. oscojoe - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    Need to have two original 6 teams that are at the Top of there respective divisions – Bruins vs Red Wings. It will be a classic.

  7. phillytalk215 - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    flyers penguins beaver stadium that would be the real treat

  8. 8man - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    Of course the league is intrigued. The Detroit Red Wings and possibly, Boston, New York, Montreal, etc. skating outside in front of 113,000 people, what could be better?

    This would be epic!

    • bcjim - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      Sure it’ll be great 113,000 people with telescopes and binoculars watching the tiny little men skate around.

  9. alexo0 - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Makes sense. With the players locked out next season the Winter Classic will be played by college teams so you may as well make getting to the game as easy as possible for them.

  10. murraychadwick - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    The game itself would be great at the Big House, but the Winter Classic isn’t just about the game it’s about the whole week of activities. I go to just about every Michigan football game and live in the Detroit area, and I for one would vote against it. Ann Arbor is not Detroit, there aren’t any restuarants or bars near the big house and it’s a solid 35minutes from Downtown and way west of the Detroit suburbs. If Detroit is going to get the game I’d want it at Comerica in the stadium district where there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area for the fans to enjoy along with the urban atmosphere. It would feel like the Red Wings are hosting the Classic but not in Detroit. I’m surprised they are even considering it to be honest. Ann Arbor is a great city but there really isn’t any areas near the stadium to socialize and hang out unless you want to tailgate. And like I said, it’s about the whole week and not just the game.

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