SBD/Issue 64/Events & Attractions

Big Chill Game Sets Guinness Record For Largest Hockey Crowd

College Hockey Matchup At Michigan Stadium
Draws World-Record Crowd

Saturday's Michigan State-Michigan outdoor hockey game drew an unofficial total of 113,411 fans at Michigan Stadium, marking the "largest hockey crowd worldwide in history," according to Mark Snyder of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The total also marked the "largest crowd for any event in Michigan Stadium history, surpassing the 2010 football season opener against Connecticut." Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator Mike Janela confirmed that the attendance was "more than enough for a world record," though he said that the organization "would need more time to come up with an official attendance figure" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/12). Michigan coach Red Berenson: "I don't know where they found all the new seats. It wasn't like they put bleachers down on the field, but now they know they're there, so that's good. I'm sure with (the football team's) best moments against Notre Dame or Ohio State, I'm sure they could sell those seats now." Central Collegiate Hockey Association Commissioner Tom Anastos: "It was a spectacular event. ... From my perspective, it went off without a glitch" (ANNARBOR.com, 12/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika noted there were a "few empty seats, just a few, in the upper reaches of one corner of the stadium." The game was played on a "temporary rink of Olympic-sized ice." The "larger sheet -- set smack in the middle of the stadium, from one 15-yard line to the other, between the numbers -- looked in perfect proportion, like it was almost supposed to be there" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/11).

JUST ABOUT PERFECT: ANNARBOR.com's Pete Bigelow wrote, "Everything worked. ... The fly-over, the ice condition, the fireworks -- all the details fell in Michigan's favor." Months of planning and "weeks of sleepless nights for the athletic department's operations staff produced something beyond the outdoor hockey game university officials had dreamed up." New lights atop the stadium "highlighted the action." The game was a "testament to the marketing savvy" of Michigan AD Dave Brandon. It also was a "boost for the local economy, which benefited to the tune of an estimated" $14M (ANNARBOR.com, 12/11). In Detroit, Michael Rosenberg wrote, "It was more than pretty good. It was just about perfect. Kudos to Michigan's athletic department for expertly executing this, from plan to fruition, at a turbulent time for the department" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/12). Also in Detroit, David Goricki wrote it was "more than just a hockey game." Goricki: "It was an event, a happening ... something that will be talked about for decades to come" (DETNEWS.com, 12/11).

Red Wings Coach Feels An NHL Game Could
Have Been Done In Conjunction With Big Chill

DON'T OVERDO IT: Brandon said, "This is not something you do every year. You have to make it special. But I could see us getting into an every-four-years cycle, timing it in such a way that every student athlete who plays hockey here gets a chance to participate in something like this" (USATODAY.com, 12/11). ESPN.com's Mike Eidelbes noted Michigan and Michigan State previously played an outdoor game at Spartan Stadium in '01. Michigan State AD Mark Hollis said of outdoor hockey games, "When we did it in 2001, it was like the Apollo mission. ... Now, it's like the space shuttle. They're taking off and landing and you don't even know it. It's becoming routine." Eidelbes wrote, "That begs the question: At what point does the law of diminishing returns kick in and fans say, 'Eh, it's been done?'" Hollis said that the concept of outdoor hockey games is "not passé, but, in his words, the events must be 'special and unique'" (ESPN.com, 12/12). The Red Wings hosted the Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena Friday, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock discussed the possibility of holding the game at Michigan Stadium. Babcock: "This should be a weekend combination. I say this every year, State and Michigan could do all the work for the NHL and you could have a game here every year. It holds what, 117,000? That wouldn't be bad. To me it's a slam dunk. The facility (Michigan Stadium) is all set up. We could have played this game out there (in Ann Arbor). It would have been a good deal" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/11).

MINNESOTA NEXT? In St. Paul, John Shipley writes, "When will Minnesota finally play an outdoor game? Maybe next season." Univ. of Minnesota men's hockey coach Don Lucia: "It's been more than talk. I think the big question now is whether financially we can make it work." Lucia said the school has an opponent "willing to come and do it." Minnesota women's hockey coach Mark Frost said that his team "anticipates being involved with a game against Wisconsin." Minnesota has been "talking about playing host to an outdoor game since before TCF Bank Stadium opened last fall." Minnesota AD Joel Maturi initially "talked about a partnership with the Wild, perhaps as part of Hockey Day in Minnesota," but Maturi yesterday said that the school "won't wait for the Wild" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/13).

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