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Winter Classic at the Big House would have serious complications

Jan 17, 2012, 10:40 PM EDT

Michigan Stadium Getty Images

If all the Michigan rumors are true, this isn’t going to be your average Winter Classic. As if there was an emerging routine for outdoor spectacles, the 2013 Winter Classic is proving to pose more problems than just the average weather and revenue questions. Last week we heard that the league was considering the idea of splitting the festivities between Comerica Park in Detroit and the Big House (pardon me, Michigan Stadium) in Ann Arbor. Now we’re hearing from the university that just the game on January 1 still comes some serious obstacles.

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon spoke out earlier this week: “When we were approached (by the NHL), I thought this could be a great opportunity. But boy, doesn’t it have a lot of complications, and I still feel that way.”

So what are the problems? Where do we start…?

Among the problems posed by a game on New Year’s Day is that the stadium usually closes up for the winter when the University of Michigan’s football season ends (at home) at the end of November. There are concerns about the game being played on a holiday – and people don’t usually work on the holiday. The university also has concerns about being able to find enough people to support the event (infrastructure and attendance) because the football team could possibly be playing on the same day in a warm-weather market.

And then there’s the booze issue:

“It is a university issue and a state law issue. This is not a venue that has a liquor license to operate on a day-in, day-out period like a lot of other sporting venues.”

The infrastructure and scheduling conflicts are all important, but issues with the liquor license? How would all those hockey fans keep themselves warm during an outdoor game in January?

Clearly, there are issues that still need to be remedied. A.D. Brandon summed up the conversations as such: “We’re still having conversations. It’s a work in progress. We’ll see if we can work it out.” Good thing there’s still about 50 weeks before the teams would take the ice.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Can you not obtain a liquor license for an event? How do they serve beer at outdoor concerts?

  2. taytay099 - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    I would guess like most stadiums and arenas that the majority of the people that work there already have full time jobs and work the stadium on a part time basis so getting enough people for a one day event on Jan 1 would be very difficult. Would be terrible having a bunch of inexperienced people working the stands on such a large event. Can’t have 30 minute line ups for a beer because of new workers struggling with the pace.

  3. bigbear42 - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Theyve already had an outdoor hockey game at the big house, how are these problem new?

    • gekkoguy82 - Jan 18, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      It was a college game, UM vs MSU, so no liquor license was a moot point, since no booze at NCAA events. As for the other stuff..seems like it wouldn’t be a big deal. As far as beer goes, I don’t see why people couldn’t just get lubed up the way they do when they tailgate before every home football game and then head on in for the main event. Never been a problem before. I guess the only difference would be that the University and NHL wouldn’t get the proceeds.

      • brucewaynewins - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        I don’t think beer sales are banned at all NCAA sporting events. They sell beer at University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, and Xavier University basketball games which are all on campus in arenas. So does UC football.

        He said it was University issue and state law. Not an NCAA law. If that was the case everything I just listed would be in violation.

  4. farvefromover - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:47 PM


  5. solador78 - Jan 18, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    This sounds like a job for Jeremy Jacobs and Delaware North.

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