The University of Michigan's Board of Regents met on Wednesday morning and approved a resolution that will allow Michigan Stadium to be used by the NHL as the host of the 2013 Winter Classic. The vote was a 5-0 decision. (Denise Ilitch, who is on the board and is the daughter of Detroit Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, abstained from voting to avoid a conflict of interest.)
The 2013 Winter Classic, which will feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, could break the hockey attendance record set in December 2010 by The Big Chill at the Big House (certified at 104,173). The NHL is expecting to fill the Big House, which has seen more than 114,000 people cram into the stadium for football games before. Considering how big the fan bases are for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, I think it's a safe bet that the record will be broken.
While Michigan will likely lose its attendance record, I don't think the school will mind considering the NHL is going to pay $3 million for use of the Big House. The league is promising a "significant contribution" to Michigan's scholarship fund, although I'm not sure if that's in addition to the $3 million or part of the $3 million. In any case, the exposure Michigan will get from the event will also be very worthwhile.
Because this will be an NHL-run event, the Regents requested that a liquor license be obtained for the game. This will allow the NHL to sell beer at Michigan Stadium, which normally prohibits alcohol on the premises. That doesn't stop some people from bringing it in, namely students, but people will be able to buy it at the Winter Classic. (Side note: There will not be any student tickets for this game since it's the NHL's event. There will be advertising present, unlike at Michigan football games.)
The one other piece of noteworthy news that came out of the meeting on Wednesday is that the game will start at noon. The Winter Classic has started around 1 p.m. in the past, although in recent years the start was delayed because of weather issues. For the Red Wings/Maple Leafs game, the start time is designed to allow people to watch bowl games later in the day. Of course, considering how many bowl games are in the afternoon, there's a very good chance there will be a conflict with Michigan and/or Michigan State, so people may be forced to choose between the Winter Classic and their school's bowl game.
Two announcements about the Winter Classic are scheduled for Thursday. There will be an announcement at Comerica Park at 10:30 a.m. and a separate one at 1:15 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.