Already home to the largest crowd to ever witness a college football game, Michigan Stadium added a few more titles to its prodigious in 2014: highest-attended hockey game in U.S. history, and highest-attended soccer game in U.S. history.
It got paid quite well to do so.
According to a report from the Detroit News, Michigan was paid $2 million by promoted Relevant Sports to lease the Big House for the Aug. 2 match between European soccer superpowers Manchester United and Real Madrid. The Wolverines were also paid $550,000 for making the stadium available for practice the day prior to the match.
Manchester United won the game 3-1, thereby clinching a spot in the International Cup Final, before a crowd of 109,318.
Michigan was also received a $5 million check for hosting the NHL’s Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, where 105,491 showed up to see the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings. The college football attendance record was set when 115,109 spectators watched Michigan topple Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013.
Athletics director Dave Brandon told the Detroit News he’d be interested in renting out the Big House – provided the right event comes along. “It would be good to have a big event once a year or every other year and stage a big event in the stadium, as long as it’s a big event,” Brandon told the paper. “I view these things as a wonderful opportunity to bring new people to the stadium.”
Brandon also reported the soccer game generated $25 million for the Ann Arbor economy and, assuming that figure is anywhere close to accurate, there is no reason not to do so, especially considering the Big House sits empty approximately 358 days per year.
Michigan plays seven home games in 2014, beginning with Appalachian State on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2).