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“This is just an incredible facility,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. “We spent $226 million expanding and renovating it, and we use it eight days a year. To the extent we can come up occasionally with an opportunity _ and that’s why we’re doing weddings and we’re doing corporate parties. We’re doing a lot of things to try to say, `You know what, let’s use this, let people enjoy it, take advantage of it.’”

The possibility of the NHL breaking attendance records brought out Brandon’s competitive side. Michigan’s night football game at the Big House drew an NCAA-record crowd of 114,804.

“If they can figure out a way to do better than that, then they will set the record not only for the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game, but the largest crowd to ever watch anything in this stadium,” Brandon said. “And then my job will be to figure out a way to beat it.”

Veteran Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was at the Big House to promote the Winter Classic. That raised an obvious question: Does it mean he’s definitely planning on coming back for a 21st season in 2012-13?

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Lidstrom said. “It’s only one game, but it’s an intriguing one.”