An SEC Fan’s Impression of the Big House- Nice People but Wearing Red Might Have Been a Bad Choice

We flew into Detroit on Thursday and drove to East Lansing to tour the MSU campus (got to watch the hockey team practice in Munn Arena) before returning to Brighton where we stayed for the long weekend.

We spent Friday in Ann Arbor, mostly on the Michigan campus. Main Street in Ann Arbor is very much like Broad Street in Athens. We were really impressed with the Michigan campus. Of all the campuses we have visited, I would say Cal-Berkeley comes about as close as matching the UM campus as any we have seen.

Had lunch at the University Club, climbed to the top of the Tower, and watched the Michigan intrasquad baseball game before attending the hockey match at Yost Friday night. This was one of the highlights of visit. Yost Ice Arena reminds me so much of the Palestra in Philadelphia and somewhat of Cameron Inddoor Stadium at Duke. The students and pep band were a hoot! Every bit as entertaining as the Wisconsin students at their hockey matches. Several of the students came over to our seats (we were in the area behind the goal nearest the student section) between periods when they saw our UGA coats and were probably the nicest of so many nice people we met during our trip.

On Saturday we parked on the golf course and walked to the practice field to watch the Michigan band rehearse. Might have made one mistake on Saturday. We both wore our UGA coats and sweaters and several Michigan fans mistook the red for OSU – got cursed out a couple of times but most people were very nice and very curious as to why we were so far north of UGA on gameday.

Went back to the car and a number of people asked us to join them in tailgating on the golf course. Lots of good conversation and friendly people.

Went into the stadium early so that we could walk the perimenter. Really impressed with the architectual features of the original structure. Took our seats among friendly UM folks (and a few MSU fans as well). Both bands played the other school’s fight song. That’s pretty unique. Cannot imagine that happening at an SEC game. As a matter of fact, many SEC bands deliberately play right through the Alma Mater of the other school. The atmosphere at this game was so much more friendly than at SEC games. There are places like LSU and Alabama where, if we win, we don’t leave their ball yards for a long time after the game because of the venom spewed. At our ball yard, when the PA announcer gives scores of other games, he never includes Georgia Tech, Auburn or Florida unless they are losing! The opposing team at Sanford Stadium enters the field through a tunnel next to the student section. It’s not a pretty sight for the opposing team. It was hard to realize that there were about 20,000 more people in Michigan Stadium than our sold out Sanford Stadium could hold. Great game with real defense played. I wonder when was the last time Michigan defeated MSU without scoring a tourchdown.

Quite a weekend. No doubt we chose right this year. I would love to return for weekend when the basketball and hockey team are both playing at home. Next year we have decided to go to either the Texas-Oklahoma game in the Cotton Bowl or a home game at Notre Dame. Maybe the Washington-Washington State game in Pullman.

2012 Michigan Wolverine Football Visitors Guide

This is the time of year when I get questions from people who are coming to Ann Arbor to see a Michigan football game.  These are my personal recommendations.  Your mileage may vary…

How do I get tickets?

It’s easy to get tickets for most games.  The question is how much are you willing to pay?  For the bulk of the games against minor opponents you can usually find tickets around the stadium on the day of the game far below face value.  It’s simple supply and demand.  There are 109,901 tickets available for every game.  There are literally thousands of tickets bought and sold in the hours before the game outside the stadium and in the adjacent parking lots.  It’s not unusual for tickets to be sold for far less than face value for a minor opponent.  The best prices are usually found on game day right outside the stadium by people who line the streets on the way to the stadium.

2012 Football Schedule

Your best bet is to find season ticket holder just outside the stadium who is dumping extra tickets prior to entering.

Usually tickets are sold in pairs or singles.  Getting more than two together is more difficult.  For the big games this season (Michigan State, Iowa) get ready to pay. If you want tickets in advance you’ll need to check the , Stub-Hub, get them from a season ticket holder, or look on E-Bay.

Prior to game day you can usually find ticket scalpers outside the Michigan Union.  Another place to look is check the window of the Coach & Four Barber shop on State Street by Mr. Spots.  They have tickets in the window for most games.


How do I get there?

Michigan Stadium is located off of Interstate 94.  Exit at Ann Arbor-Saline Road.  There are signs and you’ll see LOTS of cars and sometimes a blimp or two circling the stadium.

Google Maps- Michigan Stadium


 Where do I park?

Adjacent to Michigan Stadium on Ann Arbor-Saline Road is Pioneer High School.  Plenty of parking is available.  You can also park at the golf courses across the street. Many homeowners offer up their lawns as makeshift parking lots on game days.

As you cross the street to the stadium listen for the traffic officer as he or she harasses fans from the opposing school.

Costs Range from $20-$50 depending on proximity to the stadium.

WARNING-  In cases of extremely bad weather (I.E. after days and days of rain or sleet/snow) both of these places may close to protect the grounds. In this case parking becomes nightmare.  Park at Briarwood Mall and take the shuttle bus to the game.  The shuttle also runs from many of the local hotels.  Shuttle Info


What about camping?

RV owners can purchase a permit to camp in a designated area at Pioneer High School.  The permit allows you to stay from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.


What about tailgating?

Tailgating is allowed in the parking areas around the stadium.  Fans should note that upon departing for the game it highly recommended that you secure any belongings in your trunk.  Looting of coolers and other items is known to occur.

If you’re looking for an amazing tailgate space literally across the street from the Big House check out MGoPatio. If its good enough for Sports Illustrated its good enough for you!


What should I see while in Ann Arbor?

If you get into town a day before the game or stay after there are number of sights to see.

You can visit:

Michigan Stadium- it’s usually open 9-4:30 during the week (NOTE- since 9/11 the stadium is locked down 2-3 days before games.)

Stop by Schembechler Hall (AKA Fort Schembechler).  This is where the Wolverines practice.  Here’s a map of the area.  Much of the tall brink wall that surrounded the outdoor practice field has been removed to make way for the constructon of the new indoor practice field.  It’s directly adjacent to Schembechler Hall- you can’t miss it.

Dwarfing Schembecher Hall is the Al Glick Field House, one of the largest indoor practice facilities in the country.

If the team is practicing outdoors you might catch a glimpse of them from the overpass on Stadium street.

Yost Ice Arena (Web Page) named for Michigan Immortal Fielding Yost has a number of displays of Wolverine hockey memorabilia and is open practically all of the time.

Behind Schembechler Hall is Oosterbaan Field House (Web Page) an indoor football field.  Sometimes you can sneak a peek of the field but football practices are closed.

Behind the Ticket office is the outdoor track where Jesse Owens once ran at the Big Ten Track Championships.  Adjacent to the outdoor track in Revelli Hall where you might be able to catch the marching band practice.

Michigan Central Campus has a number of places to visit.  Start at the Michigan Union (Web Site).  Check out the place where President John F. Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps marked on the front steps.  Stop by and spin the Cube in the courtyard outside.  A little ways down from the Union is the Kelsey Museum of Archeology which houses some nice artifacts.  Across the street is the Angell Hall an impressive looking building whose design is reminiscent of a Greek temple.  Behind Angell Hall, is the Michigan Diag.  Note the Block ‘M’ engraved in the center, legend has it that if a freshman steps on the Block M they will fail their first exam.  The Diag is home to all kinds of demonstrations and can be quite entertaining, especially on days when speaker will lecture passersby from the cement benches that surround the Diag.  Adjacent to the Diag is the UGLI (undergraduate library) and also visible is the Michigan Bell Tower.  The best museum on central campus is the Natural Science Museum which has a great a collection of dinosaur skeletons and even a stuffed Wolverine!  Drive down Washtenaw away from campus and look for the Rock.  It is a campus tradition for students to ‘paint the rock’.  Legend says that it actually started out as a small pebble but has grown to its enormous size from the millions of layers of paint that have been applied over the years!


Ann Arbor Nightlife

If you’re looking to sample Ann Arbor nightlife Thursday night is the big bar night on campus.  There are a number of bars and restaurants to sample.

Scorekeepers is a large sports bar and grill with music, multiple televisions, and pool tables.  While you’re there take note of the large window in the front, former Wolverine Brian Griese threw a beer bottle through it after being kicked out of the establishment one night prior to the 1997 season.

Dominick’s (812 Monroe/734-662-5414) is a campus tradition located across from the Law School.  Another campus favorite is Ashley’s (338 South State Street/734-996-9191).

Another campus haunt is Rick’s American Cafe  Frankly, it’s a pit but don’t let that deter you- it features live music and sticky floors that will remind you of your college days.  Outside of Rick’s is where former Wolverine captain Bennie Joppru allegedly got into a knock-down drag out fight with a member of the Wolverine wrestling team.

After a evening of carousing you may end up at the Brown Jug (1204 South University/761-3355) which is open until 2 AM.  Yes, it takes its name from the trophy that Michigan and Minnesota play for every season.  Rick’s and the Brown Jug are all within a block (and stumbling distance) of each other.


Where should I eat before the game?

Many people tailgate before games but if you want to grab some food these are some popular choices:

  • Maize and Blue Deli– $ 1329 S. University/734-996-0009.
  • Dimo’s Deli– $ 2030 West Stadium Boulevard/734-662-7944.  My personal recommendation.  Get the burger!!
  • Angelo’s– $ 1100 East Catherine at Glen/734-761-8996.  Order anything that’s made with the homemade bread.
  • Weber’s Inn– $$ 3050 Jackson Road/734-769-2500.  Offers an all-you-can-eat brunch.  You can also park there and grab the shuttle over to the stadium.
  • Dibella’s– $ 904 West Eisenhower Parkway/734-997-9011.  My new favorite sub place.  Stop in and eat or grab these for your tailgate.

$= $5-$10 Entrees  $$= $10-$15 Entrees  $$$= $15 and Above Entrees


What radio stations cover Michigan Football in the area?

Many stations carry the games but the local Ann Arbor sports station is WTKA AM 1050 which talks about Michigan sports pretty much all the time.


What should I do on Game Day?

On Game day you have a few options.  Decide if you want to see the band take the field.  A truly awesome sight.  If not you can follow the band as they march to the stadium also very cool.  if you get to the Stadium a few hours early you can greet the teams as they arrive for the game (the stadium tunnel by Crisler Arena).  Also note that since 9/11 the items that you can take into the stadium has been reduced.

Also note that due to the stadium upgrade project the athletic department strongly recommends that fans try to enter the stadium an hour before the game.

If you want to see the band take the field you need to be inside the stadium about 30 minutes before game time.  You can also the see the Wolverines warm up sans shoulder pads. As the band takes the field look for the Drum Major.  Traditionally, to prove their mettle they must perform the following stunt.  The really good Drum Majors will touch the top of their hat to the ground (not just the plume).  Another thing you may see is this.  The tradition of showing all 4’s on the scoreboard has become to stand as a reminder that the team must play 4 strong quarters to insure victory.  At least that’s how it was explained to former Athletic Director Tom Goss when he enquired about the practice. According to interviews with the scoreboard operator, it really began as a prank to see if anyone was paying attention to the scoreboard minutes before the game.

Hopefully you’ll sing the Victors A LOT. Know the words and remember to raise your arm whenever you sing the word ‘Hail’.


What about a game program?

The athletic department sells some really cool program that cost $5.  Unfortunately there is no way that you will be able to keep it from being messed after you purchase it and after the game the vendors are long gone.  If you want a keepsake I would recommend ordering the program from the athletic department media relations office and having it mailed to your house.


What should I eat at the game?

The concessions are plentiful: hot dogs, pizza, kielbasa, etc.  My personal favorite are the Mr. Spots Subs (philly cheesesteak sandwiches). I also like the Italian sausages with peppers.  Michigan Stadium serves Coke products.  No alcohol is served at the stadium.

What if I need cash?

There are ATM’s available inside the stadium.


Where should I eat after game?

Most people leaving Michigan Stadium will travel back to the interstate using State or Ann Arbor-Saline Road.  Think about that- 100,000 people are driving by- everything you see on that route (mostly chain restaurants) will be PACKED.  Restaurants along those routes include Bennigan’s, Damon’s, Max & Erma’s, The Outback, TGI Fridays, and Joe’s Crab Shack.  Come to think of it just about everything in Ann Arbor is packed after a football game.  Here are some places that are off-the-beaten path but well worth the wait (I’ll list by specialty):

  • Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger– $ Hamburgers- 551 S. Division/ 734-663-3103.
  • Frita Batidos– $ Cuban 117 W. Washington/ 734-761-2882.
  • Banfield’s East-$ Hamburgers- 3140 Packard Street/ 734-971-3300.
  • Argiero’s– $$ Italian- 300 North Detroit/ 734-665-0444.
  • Mr. Spots– $ Philly Cheese steak sandwiches- 810 South State/ 734-747-7768.
  • Wings Pizza N Things– $$ American- 6877 State Street/ 734-429-7700.
  • Real Seafood Co.– $$$ Seafood, duh!- 341 S. Main/ 734-769-7738.
  • Palio– $$$ Italian- 347 S. Main/ 734-930-6156.
  • Original Cottage Inn Restaurant– $$ Pizza, Italian-  512 East William/ 734-663-3379.
  • China Chef– $ Chinese 2870 Washtenaw Avenue/ 734-434-8877.  Good food, large portions, cheap prices.  A little out of the way but worth the trip.
  • Ichiban– $$$ Japanese Steak House/sushi 4641 Washtenaw Avenue/ 734-975-0589.
  • Pizza House– $$ American cuisine 618 Church Street/ 734-995-4995.
  • Carlyle Grill $$$ American cuisine 3660 Jackson Road/ 734-213-9800.

$= $5-$10 Entrees  $$= $10-$15 Entrees  $$$= $15 and Above Entrees

Hyped but overrated- think Drew Henson 🙂  These are the places that many people will always ask you if you’ve eaten upon hearing that you went to Ann Arbor…

  • Gratzi– $$$ 326 South Main/ 734-663-6387.
  • Gandy Dancer– $$$ 401 North Depot/ 734-769-0592.
  • Zingerman’s– $$ 422 Detroit Street/ 734-663-3354.  New York deli- GOOD, New York Prices, OUCH


Where should I get my Michigan Gear?

No pilgrimage to the Big House would be complete without purchasing tokens of your devotion.  There are numerous vendors selling stuff in and around the stadium.