Cold War (ice hockey)

Cold War (ice hockey)
Cold War
"The Cold War" had the highest attendance of any hockey game in history
1 2 3 Total
Michigan 1 1 1 3
Michigan State 1 0 2 3
Date October 6, 2001
Arena Spartan Stadium
City East Lansing, MI
Attendance 74,544

The Cold War was a college ice hockey game played between U.S. college rivals Michigan State University and the University of Michigan on Saturday, October 6, 2001. It set the world record for the largest crowd at an ice hockey game with 74,544,[1] a record that was broken on May 7, 2010 when the opening game of the IIHF World Championship between Germany and the USA drew 77,803 to Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.[2] This record has since been broken again, by a rematch of the Cold War that was dubbed the 'Big Chill at the Big House' and was played at Michigan Stadium, drawing 104,173 fans to attend.[3]

Longtime rivals with the U of M in hockey (and other sports), MSU decided not to play this contest at East Lansing's Munn Ice Arena, but instead set up an ice rink in the middle of the much larger Spartan Stadium, which they filled to 103.4% of capacity. This meant that 74,544[4] packed the Big Ten football stadium (the home of the MSU football team) to watch the MSU Spartans and the U-M Wolverines skate to a 3-3 tie.[5][6] Two 300-piece marching bands were present on field and the game was internationally televised. Country artist Shannon Brown sang during the second intermission.


Other outdoor hockey games

The Cold War set off a wave of outdoor ice hockey games in large stadiums.[citation needed] In November 2003, the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens dropped the puck on the Heritage Classic – the NHL's first regulation outdoor game. An NHL record crowd of 57,000 that braved -18 °C temperatures was also treated to Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier returning as Oiler alumni in the preceding Alumni Game.

On February 11, 2006, Ohio State and Wisconsin attracted 40,890 fans to the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. This was the second outdoor game involving US college teams, with others being played since then.

Since 2008, the NHL has staged the Winter Classic annually on New Year's Day. As of 2011, none of these games have passed the Cold War in attendance, although none have been held in a stadium matching Spartan Stadium's capacity.

The effects of this event were felt in Europe as well, with professional outdoor games being staged in Switzerland, Sweden[7], Austria[8], and the Czech Republic[9].

Record surpassed

The opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship took place on May 7 at the retractable-roof Veltins-Arena, normally used by the soccer club Schalke 04. On this occasion, the stadium's configuration allowed for a capacity of 75,976, which would ultimately be exceeded by almost 2,000, breaking the all-time attendance record.

On December 11, 2010, the two teams involved in the Cold War met again, this time with Michigan hosting the game at its football venue, Michigan Stadium. UM is billing the game as "The Big Chill at the Big House".[10] When UM halted ticket sales to the general public on May 6, 2010, over 100,000 tickets had been sold.[11] As of the 2010 football season, Michigan Stadium has an official capacity of 109,901. The game ended with a 5-0 victory for the University of Michigan. The record was officially re-broken as 104,173 fans packed Michigan Stadium.


The game was broadcast by FSN Detroit, which made it available nationally. The announcers were Matt Shepard, Billy Jaffe and Shireen Saski. John Keating hosted a pregame show.

See also

  • List of outdoor ice hockey games
  • List of ice hockey games with highest attendance


  1. ^ Latham, Krista. "Game shatters records, players’ expectations". The State News. October 8, 2001.
  2. ^ "Historic win for Germany". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gumbrecht, Jamie. Big game brings out fans, winter clothes". The State News. October 7, 2001.
  5. ^ Jahnke, James. "'The Cold War' ends in stalemate". The State News. October 7, 2001.
  6. ^ McCollough, J. Brady. No winners in record-breaking game". The Michigan Daily. October 8, 2001.
  7. ^ "Publikkaos när Europarekordet slogs" (in Swedish). 2009-12-28. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  8. ^ "Eishockey: Villach triumphiert im Freiluft-Derby" (in German). Die Presse. 2010-01-09. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  9. ^ "Pardubice wins Open Air game at home". Czech Hockey Report. 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Ticket Freeze for The Big Chill at the Big House Presented by Arby's" (Press release). University of Michigan Athletic Department. May 6, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
Preceded by
1957 IIHF World Championship Gold Medal Game
Ice hockey game attendance record
Succeeded by
2010 World Championship Opening Game

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