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U of M Board of Regents approves holding Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium; pressers Thursday

Updated 9x at 7:04 PM: The NHL and Red Wings will stream both pressers:

Oh, NHL, you’re such a tease:

The National Hockey League will make a major announcement in Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 9.

The press conference will take place at Comerica Park in Detroit, beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET. It will be carried live on NHL Network and NHL.com. The event will continue at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Updated 2x at 12:12 PM: the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that pressers are scheduled for 10:30 AM on Thursday at Comerica Park and 1 PM at Michigan Stadium: Excellent news out of Ann Arbor regarding the centerpiece of the Winter Classic, per the Detroit News’s Angelique S. Changelis:

The University of Michigan Regents have approved leasing Michigan Stadium to the NHL for the league’s Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2013, that will feature the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Regents held a special meeting Wednesday morning to address the leasing, which would draw $3 million from the NHL.

A liquor license would be obtained — liquor is not served on campus at Michigan — and the NHL will have advertising and other sponsorship agreements throughout the stadium. There is no advertising at Michigan Stadium for football games.

President Mary Sue Coleman ran the special meeting that most regents attended via conference call. Interestingly, regent Denise Ilitch, whose father, Mike Ilitch, owns the Red Wings and Tigers, chose to abstain from voting, saying that while she has no direct interest in the NHL, she has family ties to the league and this situation.

 

Update: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports that the Wings’ players are still speaking somewhat obliquely about the event:

“If it’s going to happen it’ll be very exciting,” [Nicklas] Lidstrom said after the morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “They haven’t announced anything yet, but if it happens it’ll be something exciting for the fans. And to have something in this area of this magnitude will be great for the fans.”

Perhaps an outdoor game would make Lidstrom come back for one more season?

“I don’t know if this one game will sway me to come back or not,” Lidstrom said. “I think it’s great for the fans, great for Detroit and great for the state of Michigan that they’re doing it.

“It’s Original Six, Toronto’s not too far and people can drive in,” Lidstrom added. “It’s close to Canada. It will be a great atmosphere. There are a lot of Red Wings fans and a lot of Toronto fans so if it happens it’ll be great.”


Update #2: The Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple conirms...

The University of Michigan Board of Regents today voted unanimously to allow the NHL to use Michigan Stadium for its annual Winter Classic outdoor hockey game.

The NHL will pay up to $3 million to use the stadium from Dec, 1, 2012 to mid-January. The game will be held Jan. 1, 2013 with an alternate date set for Jan. 2. The NHL has also agreed to donate an undisclosed amount of money to the university for student scholarships.

U-M athletic director Dave Brandon said he was first contacted by the NHL in November 2011 about the possible use of Michigan Stadium.

“We have Michigan Stadium sitting over there empty on New Year’s Day 2013,” Brandon said. “One of the things you try to do is leverage our assets in a way that provides us opportunities to make them available and also generate some income.”

Regent Denise Ilitch, whose father, Mike Ilitch, owns the Detroit Red Wings, recused herself from voting.

NHL advertising and other sponsorship arrangements will be implemented throughout the stadium and a liquor license will be obtained for service of alcoholic beverages at the stadium for the event.

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that the pressers’ times

have been revealed:

Winter Classic announcements set for 10:30 a.m. at Comerica tomorrow, 1:15 at Michigan Stadium

Update #3: Here are more player comments from St. James—who embedded a video in her report:

“It’s going to be quite the spectacle,” Jimmy Howard said this morning. “With it being at the Big House, with 110,000-plus that are expected to be there, it’ll be great for all of us.”

The Free Press reported three weeks ago that the Wings would host Toronto in the 2013 outdoor game, but the press conferences won’t come until Thursday. So, captain Nicklas Lidstrom only spoke in maybes.

“If it’s going to happen, I think it will be very exciting,” he said. “I think they haven’t announced anything yet, so we’re still waiting for the announcement. But if it happens, it will be exciting for fans to have something in this area.”

Asked if it could sway him to come back and play again next season, Lidstrom laughed. “I don’t know if one game is going to sway me one way or another, but I think it’s great for the fans.”

Update #4: Via RedWingsFeed, 97.1 the Ticket’s Mike Stone states the obvious:

While this should be a great event, it is possible that based on this year’s Winter Classic in Philadelphia, the festivities may be too expensive for everyone to participate. Granted the situation will be different because of Michigan Stadiums capacity, but fans who want to attend just the game at The Big House may be shut out unless they buy tickets to at least one of the other events. And don’t blame the Red Wings or the University of Michigan. The NHL has paid three million dollars to have full control of the event and they are the one’s setting the ticket prices. Here is an excerpt from a Philadelphia Inquirer story which explains what one Flyers season ticket holder had to do to attend

John Bakley, 41, a Mantua Township resident who works as a teacher’s assistant at Gloucester County College, is among the many season-ticket holders upset with the handling fees for his tickets. He purchased two tickets that were just below the mid-level price for the Winter Classic at $149 each. The fees for the tickets totaled $67.50, he said. Bakley was also forced to buy two tickets to the alumni game (he paid $72 each, plus fees that totaled $32) and two tickets to the Adirondack Phantoms-Hershey Bears AHL game ($33 each, plus fees that totaled $6).

All told, Bakley paid $508 for two tickets to each of the three games. He said he would not have purchased the tickets to the Dec. 31 alumni game or Jan. 6 AHL game if it wasn’t mandatory. His fees for the tickets: $105.50.

“It’s not criminal, but it should be,” Bakley said. “You can’t find anyone who can justify it – short of having Reggie Leach personally bring me the tickets.”
...
With the prospect of more than five other games besides the NHL game, I would not be surprised if you had to buy tickets to at least one or two other games to go see the Wings and Leafs. Hopefully this will not be the case, but my advice is to be prepared to spend big money on some games that you have no desire to see.

Update #5: Per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:

“If it’s going to happen it’ll be very exciting,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “They haven’t announced anything yet, but if it happens it’ll be something exciting for the fans. And to have something in this area of this magnitude will be great for the fans.”

It didn’t take long for the cat to come out of the bag. “I think it’s great for the fans, great for Detroit and great for the state of Michigan that they’re doing it,” Lidstrom continued. “It’s Original Six, Toronto’s not too far, and people can drive in. It’s close to Canada. It will be a great atmosphere. There are a lot of Red Wings fans, and a lot of Toronto fans, so if it happens it’ll be great.”

Might it be enough to convince Lidstrom to play another season? “I don’t know if this one game will sway me to come back or not,” he said.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock also sought to temper his excitement. “I think it will be fantastic,” Babcock said. “If we are offered the opportunity to have an outdoor game, we’d embrace it.”

Wings goalie Jimmy Howard wasn’t the least bit concerned about keeping the secret. ““It’s going to be quite the spectacle, being at the Big House, with 110,000 expected to be there,” Howard said. “It’ll be great for all of us.”


Update #6: From RedWingsFeed, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2013, will be DET-TOR at Univ of Michigan (The Big House) but it’s the only event being held there.
...
Outdoor rink at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit will be site of a weeklong Hockeytown Fan Fest, so to speak. Events there will include:
...
Two GLI NCAA college games, Marlies vs Griffins AHL game and OHL doubleheader with PLY vs LDN and SAG vs WDR, plus high school/youth games.
...
Marquee event for Comerica on Dec. 31 will be Legends/Alumni game between ex-Leafs and ex-Wings. Then it’s off to Big House on Jan. 1.
...
NHL may need to clone icemaker Dan Craig. Biggest challenge will maintaining ice quality at Comerica with all that usage. Good luck, Dan-o.

Two words: Al Sobotka.


Update #7: There will be beer, per the Free Press’s George Sipple:

U-M’s Board of Regents voted unanimously this morning to allow the NHL to use the Big House for the Winter Classic outdoor game. Regent Denise Ilitch, whose father, Mike Ilitch, owns the Wings, recused herself from voting. The game will be Jan. 1 with an alternate date of Jan. 2. The NHL will pay U-M $3 million for use of the stadium from Dec. 1 until mid-January.

NHL advertising and other sponsorship arrangements will be implemented throughout the stadium and a liquor license will be obtained for service of alcoholic beverages during the event.

A Guinness world-record crowd of 104,173 saw U-M beat MSU, 5-0, in the Big Chill at the Big House on Dec. 11, 2010. U-M athletic director Dave Brandon said today that “the NHL is hell-bent to break the record that we set at the Big Chill … and I hope they do.”

However, Brandon wouldn’t concede that the NHL’s record would stand for long

“The NHL will come in and do the best to break our record and I hope they do,” Brandon said. “Because then we’ll come back and have another hockey game and break their record.”

Brandon said the largest crowd at Michigan Stadium was for last September’s game against Notre Dame — the first night game in Big House history. It drew a crowd of 114,800 Brandon said he was approached by the NHL in November.

“We have Michigan Stadium sitting over there empty on New Year’s Day 2013,” Brandon said. “One of the things you try to do is leverage our assets in a way that provides us opportunities to make them available and also generate some income.”


Update #8: AnnArbor.com’s Jeff Arnold, writing for Puck Daddy, talks about the alcohol issue and the event’s economic impact:

Andrea Miller, the public information officer for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, said non-profit organizations have 12 one-day licenses per year to use. But in order to receive them, organizations must complete a lengthy application, outlining the requirements for alcohol to be sold at events Brandon wrote in his request to regents that the current stadium concessionaire is not permitted to obtain the 1-day license. He expects, however, the university will contract with the current concessionaire to provide staffing for the alcohol service.

Also clogging up the works was the fact that Michigan’s campus will be, in effect, shut down on Jan. 1. Michigan plays its final football game on Nov. 17 — two-and-a-half months before the Winter Classic would be played.

Brandon said the $3-million figure was negotiated on but that he also had a jumping off figure he needed to reach to make it worth the university’s while. The NHL has also, Brandon said, offered to donate money to the university’s scholarship fund to help sweeten the deal.
...
Brandon also expects hosting the Winter Classic to be a huge boon for the Ann Arbor region. A study conducted by a consulting firm concluded that an average Michigan home football game brings $14 million in revenue to the area. Brandon said because of the Winter Classic’s national appeal — one expected to stretch into Canada because of the Maple Leafs’ involvement — could well exceed the $14-million figure.

The size of the venue was clearly of interest of the NHL, which drew its biggest Winter Classic attendance in 2008 with an NHL-record 71,217 in Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium. The University of Michigan currently holds the Guinness Book of World Record mark for the largest crowd to witness an outdoor hockey game. The 2010 Big Chill broke the previous mark of 77,803, which was set at the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Germany.

The largest crowd to witness a football game at Michigan Stadium is 114,804 — reached in 2011 when the university hosted its first night game against Notre Dame. Brandon recognized Wednesday the mark Michigan Stadium held could be in jeopardy.

“The NHL is hell-bent on break the record we set in our event and I hope they do,” Brandon said. “Because then we’re going to come back and have another hockey game and try and break their record.”

MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to the Wings’ players about the event...

“I don’t know if this one game will sway me to come back or not,’’ Lidstrom said. “I think it’s great for the fans, great for Detroit and great for the state of Michigan that they’re doing it.’’ It’s Original Six, Toronto’s not too far and people can drive in. It’s close to Canada. It will be a great atmosphere. There are a lot of Red Wings fans and a lot of Toronto fans, so if it happens it’ll be great.’‘

Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk said he had never even played before 20,000 fans prior to reaching the NHL. “Now it’s 120,000 (probably closer to 110,000). What’s the next step, million?’’ Datsyuk said.

Coach Mike Babcock said it would be “fantastic.’’ “If we are offered the opportunity to have an outdoor game, we’d embrace it,’’ Babcock said.
...
“I don’t think anything’s going to sway (No.) 5,’’ Babcock said. “I think what’s got to sway 5 is that our team has got to be good and he’s got to play good. I don’t think the rest matters.’‘

As for being featured on HBO’s all-access 24-7, Babcock said, “Ask Nick how many guys ate lunch with him (on the show NHL 36) You saw those cameras, you saw Nick. You never saw anyone else.’‘

Datsyuk said he watched a little of the 24-7 special and enjoyed it. Would he be willing to be featured on it? “We’ll see,’’ Datsyuk said. “Today is not official announcement. I’ll start thinking now.’‘

As did the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“They haven’t announced anything yet, so we’re still waiting for the announcement to see what’s going to happen,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “But if it happens it will be exciting for the fans to have something in this area — something of that magnitude. I think it’s great for the fans, great for Detroit and great for the state of Michigan that they are doing it. It’s Original Six teams that would face each other, and Toronto’s not too far away, people can drive in and we are close to Canada. So it’ll be a great atmosphere. You know we have lots of Red Wings fans but there are a lot of Toronto fans, as well.”
...
Jimmy Howard said the setting and the number of fans likely to attend will create an awesome scene.

“It’s going to be quite the spectacle with it being at The Big House, with 110,000 plus that are expected to be there,” Howard said. “It’ll be great for all of us.”
...
Johan Franzen said he is happy about the Winter Classic, but he also expressed a realistic approach to a NHL game that is exposed to the elements. Clearly, NHL players know that ice conditions have not always been completely acceptable for the Winter Classics.

“If it’s nice weather, it will be a good game to be in,” Franzen said. “But if it’s snowing, and all that, sometime it gets to you, pretty much. You’ve just got to go find the puck, it will be a low scoring game and probably not too much fun to watch. But if the weather’s nice, it’s going to be a great game.”

The atmosphere can be a bit deceptive, too, Franzen said. He allowed that 110,000 fans clearly would make quite a noise. But given the layout of the rinks within stadiums, especially at large oval footballs stadium, the fans are much farther from the playing surface than in an NHL arena. He said he noted that when the Wings played the Blackhawks in Wrigley Field in 2009.

“Actually, at Wrigley, the best atmosphere was when we were walking out on to the ice,” Franzen said. “Because when you’re actually out there, you are pretty far from them. So, it’s not as tight as it would be in a regular rink. But I don’t know how it’s going to be at a football stadium.”

Update #9: here’s a little more from USA Today’s Kevin Allen..

It is still undecided whether the Winter Classic will have its traditional 1 p.m. starting time. The game was moved to the night in 2011 in Pittsburgh because of rain concerns, and it was moved from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. last month in Philadelphia because the sun was harsh on the ice surface in the early afternoon.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted unanimously Wednesday to allow the NHL to use Michigan Stadium.

The NHL will pay up to $3 million to use the stadium from Dec, 1, 2012 to mid-January. The NHL has also agreed to donate an undisclosed amount of money to the university for student scholarships.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he was first contacted by the NHL in November 2011 about the possible use of Michigan Stadium.

“We have Michigan Stadium sitting over there empty on New Year’s Day 2013,” Brandon said. “One of the things you try to do is leverage our assets in a way that provides us opportunities to make them available and also generate some income.”

NHL advertising and other sponsorship arrangements will be implemented throughout the stadium and a liquor license will be obtained for service of alcoholic beverages at the stadium for the event.

Because the announcement isn’t until Thursday, Red Wings players weren’t willing to speak freely. But goalie Jimmy Howard couldn’t hide his excitement.

“It’s going to be quite the spectacle,” he said. “With it being at the Big House, with 110,000-plus that are expected to be there, it’ll be great for all of us.”

And a bit about the venue from Red Berenson, via the New York Times’ Melissa Hoppert:

“I can’t imagine a better place to play an outdoor game,” said Berenson, who is coaching his 28th season at Michigan. “If you want the impact of a record-breaking crowd, and in a facility that is located in a pretty central location — you know it’s pretty easy to get to Detroit. It’s already worked here. We had that ice in, and it fit. It had great sight lines, and everything was perfect.”

The crowd of 113,411 at the 2010 game, dubbed the Big Chill at the Big House, set a world attendance record for a hockey game. The Rangers’ rookie forward Carl Hagelin, who scored two goals in that game, said, “It’s a fun experience, and something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Berenson, who grew up playing outdoors in Regina, Saskatchewan, said his fondest memory of the game was how it brought the community together.

“We got the ice in early so the whole community could use it,” said Berenson. “We had high school games and midget games and every kind of game you could think of, plus public skating opportunities every afternoon and every night. For the public, so many people were down here, you never saw so many cameras and photo opportunities for people that maybe otherwise don’t even skate but they just had to come down and skate on this ice.”

The N.H.L.’s outdoor success continued with this year’s Classic, when the Rangers defeated the Flyers, 3-2, in front of 46,967 at the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park.

“The only real intangible you can’t control is the weather,” said Berenson. “We lucked out on the weather, just like Philadelphia did. They got perfect weather, and that’s what we got. Then we got a storm that night and that could of ruined the game. But it was perfect — that’s what happens when you play outdoors in the Big House, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

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Comments

SYF's avatar

Asked if it could sway him to come back and play again next season, Lidstrom laughed. “I don’t know if one game is going to sway me one way or another, but I think it’s great for the fans.”

Oh Nick.  Yes, you are.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 02/08/12 at 02:39 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.