U-M AD Brandon on hockey, stadium matters

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
4:20
PM ET
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon explained how some of this partnership -- really, a stadium lease -- with the NHL is going to work for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2013 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here is a brief breakdown of how this will work for Michigan and for the NHL -- with some other tidbits about the game, the stadium and hockey as well. This will be in easy-to-read bullet form.

  • The NHL made a $250,000 donation to the Michigan scholarship fund -- the general scholarship fund, not student-athlete scholarships -- on Thursday.
  • Brandon was asked if hearing 115,000 people in Michigan Stadium motivates him to get another outdoor hockey game ready for the Wolverines. His answer, simply, "Yes." He said it isn't being planned, yet.
  • Has he heard negatives? "One guy. One guy sent me an email that said 'Shame on you.' A three-word email. One out of, and I've gotten hundreds and hundreds of comments that this is a fun thing for us to do."
  • Will you do other functions here? "Sure I do but I didn't pursue this. I don't have a strategy to pursue these activities. This activity came to me. The more I got into it, the more I saw opportunity to benefit. Part of my strategic plan is not to turn this into a public space or professional venue. But we do have a strategy that when it works to take some of these assets we have and try to get more from them."
  • The weddings you've had here, how have they been going? "They've been great. We have a wedding scheduled in here with 800 people, they are going to get married on the Block 'M' and the processional will go up the tunnel. It is going to be very cool. They are going to go up and have the reception. I might crash the wedding."
  • On the GLI being held at Comerica Park: "I think it's great. I talked to coach (Red) Berenson about it when it was first broached with us and Red loves playing outdoors. He thinks it is a great atmosphere."
  • Is he worried about outdoor overkill: "Yeah, I do. Except the marketplace speaks and these things wouldn't keep happening if there weren't people who really enjoyed them. I think we're in a situation where if we start to get too much of this, you'll start to see a pull-back. But the NHL is very confident they are going to sell this place out and from the analysis I've done, I think they are probably right."
  • Brandon said the NHL first contacted him the day after Thanksgiving in 2011 -- the day before Michigan beat Ohio State to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes -- about potentially playing in this game. They met in early December in Ann Arbor, Mich. during a "pounding rainstorm" and they took a peek at the Stadium.
  • The initial meeting group was led by Brandon and John Collins, the COO of the NHL.
  • Don't think Michigan Stadium will start to stage concerts. Brandon reiterated again the facility isn't conducive to it -- mostly due to the size of the tunnel and the inability to get equipment in-and-out of the stadium. He also said he has not contemplated professional soccer in the stadium or many other events.
  • The NHL will be able to use Michigan Stadium in its marketing endeavors.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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