Brandon's Blog: A Win-Win Combination
Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg (left) and Niklas Kronwall

Feb. 13, 2012

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

So ... the NHL Winter Classic is coming to Michigan Stadium!

The Michigan Athletics Department is excited to be able to provide a venue for the National Hockey League's premier regular-season event. More important, the University of Michigan is proud to bring to this community an event that will generate an economic impact that will significantly exceed a Michigan football weekend.

Michigan Athletics is an economic engine. We're pretty big, we're pretty widespread, and we've got a lot of our employees and student-athletes going a lot of places, participating in a lot of events, and generating a lot of economic activity.

For the Winter Classic, the Michigan Athletics Department will receive a substantial amount of money to allow the NHL to use Michigan Stadium. These resources will help us finance the facilities projects we have planned for many of our Olympic sports. The general fund of our central campus is also benefiting as a result of the generous $250,000 gift from the NHL's charitable foundation. This will help every student who attends our university. And the chance to provide some huge business opportunities for our community makes this entire endeavor special for so many of our stakeholders.

The experts have estimated an impact of anywhere from $25 to $35 million in revenues are brought in to the host city for the Winter Classic. I believe the game in the Big House on Jan. 1, 2013 will surpass those figures.

The game itself will be played at the end of a long holiday weekend. The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs are storied franchises, members of the "Original Six," and both teams have some of the most ardent fan support in all of sports.

Our proximity to Toronto, the 109,901 Michigan Stadium capacity, along with the long weekend will allow tens of thousands of Maple Leafs and Wings fans to make this their "major bowl" weekend for hockey. (Oh, let's not forget, this will also be the first time the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing in the Winter Classic!)

As you can see, this isn't going to be just a typical hockey game.

We invest a tremendous amount of capital in our athletics programs and our facilities. We completed a $226 million investment in Michigan Stadium, and we're two-thirds through a $97 million investment in Crisler Center. As soon as the college hockey season ends, we're going to put $16 million into Yost Arena. The videoboard projects for Michigan Stadium, Yost and Crisler cost the department $18 million.

There's a tremendous amount of requirements for capital investment to keep our programs competitive -- for fans, student-athletes and coaches.

So when we have opportunities to help our athletics program and help our local business community, it is a winning combination.

Don Canham brought the Detroit Lions to Michigan Stadium to play the Baltimore Colts in a preseason game in 1971. He looked for outside events to help defray costs for the $13 million U-M Athletics Department budget he was responsible for managing at that time. Pro tennis exhibitions and pro boxing at Crisler were some of the other events he brought to U-M.

Now, the Michigan Athletics Department has a $122 million budget, 29 sports and some of the best facilities in college sports. And we also have some very uncompetitive and unacceptable facilities as well. We have a great deal more investing to do in several of our programs.

The Winter Classic will not only help all of us economically, it will also bring more eyes and attention to our University and our local community. It will provide us a wonderful opportunity to show North America that the University of Michigan and our entire community truly take pride in being the Leaders and the Best in every way.

Go Blue and Go Wings!

Outdoor Hockey: NHL Winter Classic at Big House, GLI at Comerica Park
Dave Brandon Home Page