Think big — but more along the lines of The Big Chill’s little brother.
A source close to the situation told The Michigan Daily that negotiations are ongoing and close to being finalized for Michigan and Ohio State to face off outdoors on Jan. 15, 2012 at Progressive Field — the home of the Cleveland Indians.
An official announcement is expected to be released from Progressive Field as soon as Friday.
As of now, the ice rink is one of the few places where the Wolverines and Buckeyes are not bitter rivals. Michigan holds an all-time 65-30-11 edge in head-to-head contests against Ohio State. In 2011-12, the Wolverines finished first in the CCHA, while the Buckeyes crawled to a ninth-place finish.
The outdoor game in Cleveland will be the first of its kind in Ohio. The location is ideal for both fanbases — sitting roughly 150 miles from both Ann Arbor and Columbus.
Michigan has been a staple in hockey outdoor games, which have become increasingly frequent. The Wolverines played in the Cold War in 2001 (3-3 tie against Michigan State), the Camp Randall Classic in 2010 (3-2 loss to Wisconsin) and The Big Chill at the Big House last December (5-0 victory against the Spartans).
The Big Chill drew a world-record crowd of 100,000-plus spectators at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Progressive Field has a seating capacity of roughly 45,200 during the baseball season, and while additional seating would be added for a hockey game, the number likely won’t near setting any records.
The outdoor game is part of another attempt for Cleveland to boost activity around Progressive Field and the city’s hub. Last winter saw a two-month family-friendly event called “Snow Days,” which featured ice skating and a sledding hill inside the stadium. The Indians also hosted a Brad Paisley concert last week that drew over 25,000 fans to the field.
There has been some discussion that the outdoor game could be coupled with an NHL Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets, which would boost the ratings and attendance of the collegiate matchup significantly.
– This is a developing story, stay tuned to michigandaily.com for details throughout the week.