Maize n Brew is featured on Detroit Free Press' online sports section every Monday morning regarding all things Michigan Wolverines. The weekly column will be syndicated on our website as well as the Detroit Free Press. You can view the full column, here.
Michigan Stadium played host to a different kind of "football" on Saturday when two of the most iconic clubs in soccer - Real Madrid and Manchester United - faced off at the Big House.
The University of Michigan can claim another attendance record, as Michigan Stadium is now home to the biggest soccer match to ever be played in the United States. With 109,918 people watching a sport that has wildly been considered unpopular in this country, something is working here.
For Dave Brandon and his athletic department, holding events like this one is what is working for him and the U-M brand.
First and foremost, large-scale events such as this soccer game reaches far beyond lining the pocket books of the athletic department and university. It also impacts the entire Washtenaw County as well. According to the match notes that were handed out in the press box before kickoff, the International Champions Cup held on Saturday was expected to inject around $15-20 million into the local Washtenaw County economy.
Holding events such as this is a no-brainer for Brandon. While you extend your "brand" worldwide by loaning out your massive football stadium for extra money, you also inject some money into the local communities bottom line.
$15-20 million is nothing to scoff at, how could you not want to do something like this in the future if you're Brandon and his team?
U-M as a whole has been known for its worldwide reach in terms of education, but Saturday certainly aided the athletic department in that regard. The match was shown around the world in up to 40 countries. The exposure that could, and certainly will, bring knows no bounds.
Traditions are sacred, but the times are changing.
We live in a day where baseball fields are being converted to football fields, NASCAR tracks are hosting college football games and various events trying to gain more exposure. Nothing is safe anymore. But that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.
Did Bo Schembechler ever picture any sport other than football being played at the Big House? Probably not, but he would be happy with a sellout crowd and the fact that his beloved U-M is being broadcasted in a positive light to the world.
Sure, the fact that soccer is being played in an iconic football stadium is upsetting to some fans, but it's 2014 and life at U-M is not the same anymore. It's a different culture, one that caters to societies needs for bigger and better things. This has now spilled over to sports where everything must be a grand spectacle.
The event was an incredible success, which ended in Michigan Stadium landing another attendance record to add to their established NCAA football and hockey records set previously. In order to fulfill their destiny of becoming a worldwide brand, U-M will continue to hold events like this in the future.
With the local community now becoming $15-20 million richer, this is a smart and logical move to make.
Fireworks be damned, grandiose events at the Big House are here to stay.