Do you recall the Big Chill? Well, add two of the most historically important teams in the NHL and multiply the Big Chill by five and you will have the 2013 Winter Classic. Which is to be played by the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs in the Big House New Year’s Day.
Holding this event is not only great for the University, but it also promotes the city of Ann Arbor in the way it always should be. With it being a holiday weekend, the mood will be at a fever pitch, local establishments will see record profits and the city of Ann Arbor will see revenue that positively impacts the bottom line.
According to the Detroit News, the NHL will pay the University of Michigan $3 million dollars to lease the stadium. A hefty price to pay for the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game. The NHL will hype up this event until people will be sick of hearing about it, just how Dave Brandon envisioned it.
Coming from a Fortune 500 mindset, Brandon is all about selling the Michigan brand. Heritage jerseys, games in Dallas Stadium, college hockey games in his football stadium and now professional hockey. Though Michigan will not see any of the profits from ticket sales or concessions (even a liquor license will be obtained), the school will still see $3 million to advance the brand and continue to put Michigan above the pack.
According to Michigan fan Garrett Lantagne, he feels that holding the Winter Classic at the Big House has a lot to offer for NHL fans. “You’ve got to love it, it showcases the Big House to hockey fans, which includes Canadians. It’s good press for Michigan,” said Lantagne. “Any time you get different reporters mentioning the size of the Big House, it spotlights the University.”
But, did Michigan sell out? Did Brandon sell out his university? Or has he already traveled down that path with his recent business decisions? All are legitimate questions with legitimate answers. Some may say no, others may say yes. There isn’t a correct or incorrect answer to those questions, just enough evidence to support either claim.
Brian Cavanaugh agrees that the event will set records and will be a once in a lifetime experience. “It will be awesome and probably set the attendance record, giving the NHL some much needed press,” said Cavanaugh. “It also gives the University free press with the renovated stadium. Plus, the Alumni game between the Wings and Leafs is going to be awesome.”
The Wolverines hold the record for the largest attendance for a hockey game. The NHL will break that record with ease. This will surely upset some alumni and fans that feel Brandon is ruining the sanctity and tradition of Michigan Stadium by allowing a professional league to take over their stadium, especially one that is of high caliber like the Big House.
But, at the end of the day it’s all about the experience. How the NHL and the fans view Michigan Stadium and Ann Arbor. The 2013 Winter Classic will be a matchup for the ages, an event that will not disappoint fans.