- 1 E. Stadium Blvd.
- Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- (734) 764-1817
Don’t judge me. I wouldn’t judge you if you went to a baseball game at Wrigley Field. I’m not a closet Michigan fan. In fact, growing up, I despised Michigan because my brother, for some reason, was a huge Wolverine fan. We grew up about an hour north of the University of Illinois, so it caused a lot of Saturday afternoon fights in our house.
Still, even though I’ve never been a fan of Michigan, like most sports fans, Michigan Stadium has been one of the stadiums that I really wanted to see a game in. When we moved to Lansing, one of our goals was to see a football game at both Michigan and Michigan State. I’ve been to Spartan Stadium for work, but not Michigan Stadium.
Last week, when I was working at Illinois, I got a text message from J that said she wanted to go to a football game this weekend. She looked first at MSU, but they were on the road, so she checked Michigan. There were tickets available and at $50 a piece, didn’t seem to overpriced, so she ordered two tickets.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been looking forward to this all week. I mean, it’s The Big House. I have a lot of friends back home, who aren’t Michigan fans either, that are really jealous.
Michigan Stadium is the centerpiece of the University of Michigan athletic campus on the corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how crappy the place is, but those opinions were coming from Michigan State fans, so there may be a little biased. My expectations for the stadium itself wasn’t very high. My suspicion was that Michigan Stadium was more about tradition and atmosphere than it was comfort and aesthetics.
We pulled into Ann Arbor around 9:30 for a noon game. I intentionally drove down to Jackson so I could come in on the south side of the stadium. While looking on mgoblue.com, I found there was parking at the University of Michigan Golf Course. That’s where I meant to go. Where I ended up was the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club. Not a big deal because it was actually closer to the stadium, but it was ten bucks more. It cost me $40 to park which is just nuts. J was amazed that they were using the golf course for parking, but they probably make more with one weekend of football parking than they do all year on green’s fees. We parked on the fairway on one of the holes then hung out in the truck for a little bit before making the walk to the stadium.
J ordered the tickets online so the first stop was Crisler Arena so we could pick up our tickets. As we were entering the arena to get the tickets, we were stopped at the door by an employee who told J she would have to check her purse to enter the Stadium. We blew her off because we assumed she was a gameday employee and confused by the rules. We picked up our tickets then headed towards the gate to check out the stadium.
Well, turns out that employee did know what she was talking about. Michigan Stadium bans ALL bags over five inches tall. ALL bags…including purses. Ridiculous. In fact, ridiculous doesn’t even begin to describe it. J was told she could check her purse…HER PURSE at Crisler Arena. It’s not like she has a huge bag. The thing just barely didn’t meet their unrealistic requirements. To put this in perspective, their “rule” is taking a sheet of paper, fold it in half. That’s all the bigger your bag can be. I don’t know many women that carry a purse that size on a daily basis. Purse’s aren’t bags and they shouldn’t be considered as such. I can understand not bringing in packpacks or large bags with rain gear, etc., but when you buy something from MGoBlue inside the stadium, you’re given a bag much larger than a sheet of paper to carry your purchase in.
That almost ruined the day. J was ready to go home. We were in a pickle. Does she check the purse…which the University is not responsible for if it turns up missing or missing items…or do we lock it in the car..where the University is not responsible for it if it gets stolen.
We went back to the car, fuming. If I would have had a computer in the car, this entire post would have been a series of “f-bombs” and some pretty derogatory things to say about the people at The University of Michigan. Fortunately, I’ve had time to cool down, so I won’t don’t that.
We regrouped after a little bit and loaded up our pockets with the essentials from J’s purse. I’m not going to go into details about what we chose to do with the purse, but either way, it’s not ideal and it sucks.
After making our way back into the stadium, still pissed off, we found our way to our seats. We were still pretty early so the crowd hadn’t filled in yet. I really was in awe of the place. It was big, but the seats didn’t seem like they were a mile away. We were 86 rows up and I still thought we had a good view of the field. At some stadiums, with upper decks, you feel so far away. Like I already mentioned, I had low expectations for the physical condition of the place, so I wasn’t surprised. J was a little more disappointed. Her flip flops were sticking to the concrete that didn’t look like it had been cleaned since the last game. She almost walked out of her shoes at one point. She was also surprised that every seat in the stadium was a bleacher seat that also looked like it hadn’t seen a power washer in a while. The funny thing was someone behind said almost the same thing when they sat down. Another gentleman told her they rely on rain to clean the stadium and there was no rain last week.
After soaking in the fact that I was sitting in the Big House, I headed back down to the upper concourse to get a pop. While the seating area isn’t the prettiest, the concourse areas are actually pretty nice. I really liked they used some space outside of the stadium as walkways and vending areas. It relieved some congestion on the area directly behind the seating area.
The first order of business after leaving my seat was to find a bathroom. The men’s bathrooms are small. There was a line all day because there were only five stalls.
After completing that task, I headed to one of the concession stands behind the seating area. They don’t have a lot of options. Popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels, and pop is just about all. I got a souvenir mug of Coke Zero for $6. There wasn’t a whole lot of Coke, but the mug is actually pretty nice and something that can be used again.
Once the game started, my assumption that Michigan Stadium was all about atmosphere was confirmed. The crowd was just as fun to watch as the game and that’s what I love about college football. The thing I’ve noticed about Big Ten schools is that each student section has their own “thing.” Michigan’s is “The Michigan Wave.” I hate the wave. I’ve always thought it was the most ridiculous thing in sports. The Michigan Wave was entertaining.
The first time it goes around, it’s normal speed going counterclockwise from the student section in the northwest endzone. Even at that, watching 107,000 people doing the wave is kind of cool looking. The second time, it’s a slow motion wave which is hilarious. That was probably one of the coolest things I saw today. The third time, it’s double the speed and the fourth time, the wave is split is so it’s simultaneously going around on both sides of the stadium ending in the southeast endzone where it’s sent back, in both directions, to the student section.
The other thing that was nice to see was that the band played all the time. There was only a couple instances where stadium music was piped in over the loud speakers. I’ve heard a lot of complaining from Spartan fans who are tired of hearing rock music in between every play instead of the band. I’m not a huge fan of “Hail To the Victors,” but at least it was something the crowd got in to.
Just before halftime, J and I squeezed our way down our row and headed back down to street level to get some kettle corn. They have a few more food options back at street level including coffee and Hungry Howie’s Pizza. Our plan was to stay out of our seats until halftime so we didn’t have to crawl back over people. Since we had time, we checked out the souvenir shops and picked up another Coke. This time, we just got a large Coke Zero which was $4. Much more Coke in this one than the souvenir mug.
We were beginning to wonder if Eastern Michigan was going to give U of M a run for the money, but Michigan exploded in the second half. To avoid traffic, we bailed in the middle of the fourth when EMU missed a fourth and goal that would have brought them back within two touchdowns. There was no way they were going to score at least three TD’s in less than nine minutes, so we figured the game was over. We squeezed our way back down the aisle and headed back to the car.
Getting out was extremely easy because the stadium was just starting to clear out. We got back on Main Street and headed south to I-94. Streets were just starting to get blocked off, but we were going to eat on Jackson Avenue so hitting I-94 was the plan anyway. After getting dinner, we tried going to Whole Foods, but neither was easily accessible. Hell, just getting to an Interstate was tough. I tried going back to US 23 because we wanted to go to Howell. I weaved through side streets and neighborhoods to get to the north side of downtown . It took about a half hour which didn’t seem too bad. There’s a lot of traffic leaving at one time so you can’t expect to get out of their in a hurry.
Michigan Stadium is pretty much what I was expecting. The atmosphere was great and for being such a huge stadium, it actually had really good site lines. It’s a really good place to watch college football. I had fun, but J still has a really bad taste in her mouth from the bag rule. Again. Ridiculous. It’s another one of those things that I’m really happy to have finally been able to do, but unless my brother wants to go to a game, we probably won’t go back as spectators.