Michigan board OKs Winter Classic

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan Board of Regents on Wednesday authorized athletic director Dave Brandon to seek a contract with the NHL that would allow the league to hold next year’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

The board called the special meeting to discuss renting the stadium to the league for the outdoor hockey game. The NHL also said it would have a major announcement Thursday at Detroit’s Comerica Park — with additional media availability in Ann Arbor that same day.

According to the recommendation approved by the board, the Winter Classic would be scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013, with an alternate date of Jan. 2 — and the NHL has offered to pay up to $3 million for a license to use the iconic college football stadium.

A liquor license would be obtained so alcohol could be served at the event, and the NHL would bring its “advertising and other sponsorship arrangements” into the stadium.

Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have all hosted the Winter Classic, but a game at Michigan Stadium could draw the league’s largest crowd.

The Wolverines and rival Michigan State attracted a Guinness World Record 104,173 people for a hockey game on Dec. 11, 2010.

This year’s Winter Classic at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park drew 46,967, and the New York Rangers beat the Flyers 3-2.