Every football Saturday, the population of Ann Arbor, Michigan doubles as more than 115,000 people fill the hallowed "Big House" to watch their football heroes. That's about the same number of people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in the United States. Every day, some die waiting. You can be a hero off the football field: sign up as an organ donor, give blood or join the registry for bone marrow donation. Find out more at www.wolverinesforlife.org
In another thread, I offered to post an e-mail exchange that I had with Dave Brandon about a year ago at the beginning of last season. I should probably explain that when it first happened I was too mad to think about posting it, and we were in the midst of a season, then prompty forgot about it during the off-season, when I should have posted it. But now Dave has pissed us off again, and with any luck we will be bidding him adieu soon, so it now seems relevant again.
So, to set the stage: it is the Friday before the 2013 season opener. Michigan had a big stupid Kraft noodle in Michigan stadium. The natives were restless, even MGoShoe. The noodle itself didn't upset me, but rather the slow creep of advertising into the stadium. So although I didn't think that my opinion meant all that much, I figured that I would let the Athletic Department know how I felt. I wasn't expecting a response at all, and I figured that if I did get a response, it would be some boilerplate like, "Dear X, thanks for your feedback and for your continued support of Michigan football! Go blue!" Instead I got snark.
I sent the same e-mail to Dave Brandon and to Brian Townsend:
Dear Mr. Brandon/Mr. Townsend,
As an alumnus and supporter of the University, I was upset to see in the Michigan Daily (http://www.michigandaily.com/
blog/game/football/8-new-) that the Athletic Department is apparently planning to allow Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to advertise inside the grounds of Michigan Stadium. advertisement-blocks-big- house-view-29One of the attractions and important traditions of the stadium experience, in my view, is the lack of advertising. Please do not allow this trend to continue. I would rather pay higher ticket prices than to be subjected to large orange plastic noodles and other such nonsense that significantly detract from my experience.Many thanks in advance and Go Blue!Yours sincerely,[my name]Associate Professor, [my department in the humanities, my university, which is in the AAU]
Dave's response (or perhaps someone in his office?):
[My first name],
I received your message and I am sorry you are "upset" over a noodle.
Clearly, this is a very troubling matter for you.
Perhaps the lesson here is for you to be careful not to believe everything you read. There was an event at the Stadium Friday and this promotional piece was included. It was removed at the conclusion of the event.
I suggest you relax and enjoy the football game today!
Dear Mr. Brandon,Thank you for your timely response. I am not upset about a noodle, however, but about the possibility of advertising in Michigan Stadium on game days now and in the future.I suggest that you drop the condescending tone.Go Blue!
Thanks for your very helpful input!!Much appreciated!!Dave
Brian Townsend's response:
[My first name],
Thanks for your feedback. Your message was heard.
We are looking forward to another exciting weekend in Michigan Stadium. Go Blue!
Dear Brian,Thank you! I was at the Notre Dame game (UTL II) and it was magnificent. I was very impressed with all the work that the Athletics Department does to make the games so enjoyable and seemingly effortless. I know that they are not effortless, and I want to let you know how appreciative I am of all your hard work!Go Blue!
Thanks [my first name]. We appreciate your compliment!
I was upset about Brandon's response. It made me feel more alienated from the University that I love, actually. But here's the thing: it's just really, really stupid of him. He can think one of two things:
- This guy is an idiot.
- This guy is a reasonable person with strongly-held feelings about the University.
If (1), then the best thing is not to reply at all or to send some canned response: "Thanks for your passion! Go blue!" If (2), then the same, or something conciliatory: "Thanks for letting us know you feel, the opinions of fans and alumni are important to us" blah blah blah. I would have been satisfied with that. The only other time I e-mailed the AD about an issue, I received a very conciliatory note saying something like, "Thanks, we are already talking about this internally and we appreciate your input."
What does Dave Brandon gain from picking a fight with an alumnus?
I also think that his response was disingenuous, however. The fact of the matter is that the Kraft noodle was in Michigan Stadium for a promotial event, sure. But that promotional event -- cleverly called "W.O.W. Friday" -- is actually all about football (here's the official description of it). So it's not any old promotional event, but actually one directly tied to the football team and program. And despite the promotional tie-in, they charged $10 a person for access to the stadium! It wasn't even free!
It sounds like other people have had similar experiences to mine, perhaps even worse ones? I'd be interested to hear what other people have to contribute.
Some of the items have been covered here previously, including the upgraded cell service and the new broadcasting crew, but this press release has details on various "fan initiatives" for the 2014 football season at the Big House, including delay-free radio and new food items. There's also info on traffic for tomorrow—note that "all lanes on Ann Arbor-Saline Road north of the bridge over I-94 and all freeway entrance and exit ramps to I-94 should be open to traffic. The single lane closure on Ann Arbor-Saline Road south of I-94 may create minor delays in the area." Here's the full release:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With game day less than 48 hours away, the University of Michigan Athletic Department wants to provide fans with some of the new initiatives expected for the 2014 football season at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines will kick off the 135th season of gridiron action on Saturday (Aug. 30) against Appalachian State at noon EDT.
The gates to Michigan Stadium will open at 10 a.m., with the team expected to begin taking the field at 10:55 a.m. for warm-ups. The Michigan Marching Band will perform its pregame routine starting around 11:45 a.m., with the 2014 Wolverines taking the field under the "Go Blue" banner just prior to noon.
A limited number of tickets including unique ticket packs remain for the season opener with Appalachian State. Fans can purchase tickets online at MGoBlue.com/tickets.
Following are some of the key initiatives that fans can expect at Michigan Stadium in 2014:
Athletics in partnership with University of Michigan Information and Technology Services is testing upgraded cellular coverage at Michigan Stadium for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. [ More Information ]
- U-M started a major upgrade to the distributed antenna system (DAS) at Michigan Stadium.
- The current DAS project integrator is ExteNet Systems, which is constructing the systems for cellular providers Verizon and AT&T.
- The Verizon infrastructure improvement is up and running, while there will be a temporary solution in place for AT&T customers. This temporary structure for AT&T is currently visible from both the east and west towers.
- The cellular improvements are being funded by the cellular carriers through their respective agreements with ExteNet.
Fans can listen to the flagship radio broadcast featuring Jim Brandstatter and Dan Dierdorf without delay inside Michigan Stadium thanks to a partnership between WTKA Radio and the Michigan/IMG Radio Network. WTKA's AM 1050 in Ann Arbor will be airing Michigan football games without delay during the 2014 season, meaning fans can bring a radio to the games and hear the commentary in virtual real time as the play unfolds before their eyes. [ More Information ]
New Food Options from Sodexo
Sodexo, the official concessionaire of Michigan Athletics, will have more than 100 new items for fans to enjoy at different locations throughout the Big House. Some of the highlights around the general concessions are:
- Gourmet mac and cheese with brisket, Buffalo chicken or broccoli mix-ins
- Chili and cornbread
- Chopsticks Asian noodle stand featuring stir fried noodles and vegetarian offerings
- Big C's BBQ with smoked pulled pork, ribs, brisket and all the sides
- Fruit smoothies
- Enhanced gluten free stand with chicken chickpea salad and Udi's snacks
- Additionally, take the top of your popped maize popcorn box to the Michigan Ticket Office or Crisler Center to redeem two free tickets to any 2014-15 women's basketball game (not including the Michigan State at Michigan game)
Pregame Tailgate Show Featuring Doug Karsch and Jon Jansen
A new pregame tailgate show featuring Doug Karsch and former Wolverine captain and NFL veteran Jon Jansen take place on the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Main Street. The tandem will anchor the tailgate show from Pioneer High School starting two-and-half hours before kickoff. Karsch and Jansen will provide fans with a new college football-centric broadcast that includes appearances from director of athletics Dave Brandon, former Michigan football coaches and players as well as members of the media.
A New Team in the Michigan/IMG Radio Booth
College and NFL Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Dan Dierdorf is joining Jim Brandstatter in the radio booth for broadcasts on the Michigan IMG Radio Network this season. Brandstatter begins his first year as the play-by-play announcer on the flagship broadcast after serving as the team's color commentator for the past 34 years. Dierdorf will provide analysis for the broadcast heard on WWJ-AM (950) in Detroit, the flagship station for Michigan football. Karsch will continue as the team's sideline announcer and Jansen will provide halftime and postgame radio commentary.
Towsley Museum at Schembechler Hall Open to Fans Prior to Games
The newly renovated Towsley Football Museum at Schembechler Hall will be open to the public on football game days. Admission is free. Following is the schedule for each of the three potential game times:
- Noon kickoff -- 8-10 a.m.
- 3:30 p.m. kickoff -- 8 a.m. to noon
- 7 p.m. kickoff -- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Traffic Information for Saturday's Game
It is expected that all lanes on Ann Arbor-Saline Road north of the bridge over I-94 and all freeway entrance and exit ramps to I-94 should be open to traffic. The single lane closure on Ann Arbor-Saline Road south of I-94 may create minor delays in the area. In addition, the eastbound I-94 exit ramp 172 to Jackson Avenue should be open by Saturday; however, there will continue to be a single lane closure on Jackson Avenue (I-94BL) at Maple/Stadium which is likely to cause some backups. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Road and Lane Closures link at www.a2gov.org.
TuneIn, the world's largest audio network, and the Michigan/IMG Radio Network have joined forces to create a groundbreaking broadcast partnership in which TuneIn will carry every play-by-play broadcast of Michigan football this season. Fans can simply search "college football" on the free TuneIn Radio app or visit TuneIn.com/collegefootball for a complete list of their team's games. TuneIn is available on more than 200 platforms, including smartphones, tablets, vehicles and gaming consoles.
Welcoming Our Wolverines (W.O.W.) Fridays
Michigan Athletics welcomes fans and visitors to Ann Arbor and Michigan Stadium on Fridays prior to home football games by providing an opportunity for them to purchase official game programs, take their picture with one of the well-known landmarks at Michigan Stadium, and ask any question they may have prior to game day. Guest Services team members are available outside Gate 10 (corner of East Keech Avenue and Greene Street) and the Northeast Entry of Crisler Center from noon to 5:30 p.m. this Friday (Aug. 29). Please email any questions about W.O.W. Fridays to [email protected].
Tours of Crisler Center and Portions of Michigan Stadium
Sixty-minute tours of Crisler Center and select areas of Michigan Stadium are available on Fridays prior to home football games for a fee of $10 per person. Tour tickets will be available for purchase at the Crisler Center Ticket Office located just inside the Northeast Entry beginning at 12:30 p.m., with tours beginning at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The tours will begin in the Hall of Honor, travelling around the concourse of Crisler Center to the east side of Michigan Stadium. There will be an opportunity to have photos taken inside the stadium, and officially licensed University of Michigan souvenirs will be available at the M Den Store located on the northeast concourse of Crisler. For information on other guided tours of Michigan Stadium and Crisler Center, please visit MGgoBlue.com/specialevents/tours.html.
Hot Weather Expected for the Season Opener
With temperatures expected to be in the mid to high 80s on Saturday, we suggest that fans take precautions to ensure they stay hydrated and are well-prepared for the hot weather. To assist in this effort, there are several ways to find access to free water once inside the gates:
- Courtesy cups of water can be found at any concession stand with soda dispensing capability as well as at any one of the Absopure tents located around the concourse
- Numerous water fountains are available inside Michigan Stadium
- New this year, there are five water bottle/cup filling stations in various locations throughout the concourse
Medical personnel will be on hand to help anyone who may need assistance.
Additional Resources for Fans Attending Saturday's Game
Michigan at No. 1.
I'm guessing Bleacher Report doesn't consider the home schedule when they make a designation like this, but it's pretty cool to see us on top of a superlative list.
YouTube user 'Mitercut' has posted some incredible POV videos of Michigan Stadium and Ann Arbor. Mitercut uses a drone with a GoPro camera attached to get the views. Well worth the look!
EDIT: Sorry for the linking problem. The link is on the bold title.
Michigan vs Notre Dame UTL (II?) It starts out with a few seconds of darkness…wait for the shot!
Michigan Stadium in winter. (Preparing for hockey?)