ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Three years ago, when the University of Michigan hosted "The Big Chill at the Big House," the school operated the event as they do on a normal football Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
The staff was the same. Parking rules were the same. Catering was the same. The only real difference was the sport the spectators showed up to watch.
The event provided Michigan officials insight into what it takes to pull off a unique winter event at Michigan Stadium, but to say it prepared them for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic would be wrong.
No event in the history of Michigan Stadium will be quite like the one the NHL is putting on Wednesday, when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs ring in 2014 with the sixth edition of the Winter Classic (1 p.m.., NBC, CBC).
"The difference with this game is the NHL has come in and they're taking it to a whole other level," said Rob Rademacher, Michigan's associate athletic director of facilities and operations. "They've described it as their Super Bowl. We took some entertainment for the Big Chill, fireworks and other things, to another level that we hadn't done before here at Michigan; but from everything I've seen that we're going to do on Wednesday with the NHL, it's going the next step."