I was at the UConn game and although the game itself has been analyzed and covered in great detail, I did not see much in the way of observations of what it was like in the stadium. Below are bulletpoints of the experience.
· This isn’t Ann Arbor! There was no traffic at all getting to the stadium, we drove right up to the front. Also, we were able to park at the stadium for 15 bucks! The drunk college students in Ann Arbor would be disappointed in how little they charged. Interesting overheard fact – the stadium was built at an old airport, we drove in on the tarmac. The stadium inherited all fifty million traffic cones from the airport and all of them were laid out in the parking areas.
· There is what appears to be the world’s largest Cabela’s next to the stadium. There were even signs directing people to the stadium or Cabela’s. I kept asking if people wanted to stop for cheese bread from Cabela’s – until someone finally figured out I thought it was a chain Italian place not an outdoors store.
· This is Ann Arbor! The percentage of Michigan fans walking into the game from outer parking lots was close to 90%. All of the UConn fans made fun of Michigan because they were so outnumbered, including a drunk girl who said Michigan “sucked her weenie.” She seemed confused.
· UConn played to its audience – both inside and outside at the merchandise stands, you could buy Michigan gear. There was one booth outside the stadium selling Michigan shirts right under the sign that said this is Husky Country. I don't think they fully appreciated the irony. The UConn band played the victors as well.
· Unusual for a home college game – you could buy beer at the stadium. This is because it is off campus for UConn. According to UConn student, the Patriots were originally going to play there, but backed out and UConn took over. All the concessions were really cheap – and a good mix, you could even get a funnel cake or cupcake!
· Not a bad stadium for only holding 40,000, although with the temporary seats added just for this game it looked like a cross between a high school stadium and a real stadium like the big house. It looked like Michigan fans outnumbered UConn fans in the stadium as well. The temporary added seats, in the endzone, where we were siting, was almost 100% Michigan fans. The most annoying part was, since the seats were added, they checked the tickets like crazy, making it hard to get in and out of the section.
· The benefit to only 40,000 seats – we were close to the action. It was great to see and Michigan drove toward us in the fourth quarter. It was a great angle to see Morgan’s INT and return. The downside – security would randomly stand in our way and we couldn’t see at the goal line.
· It was a good mix of Michigan fans, both young and old, looked like lots of families. A lot of Michigan gear, including a lot of shirts I had never seen before. Vamos Azul shirts were especially popular. There was also an Elvis sitting in the bleachers. The only non-Michigan fan that I saw was a girl in a UConn shirt who was bawling and carrying nachos. We were all curious as to what her deal was. Also odd, the girl behind us broke her foot? And had to be carried up and down a couple of time at the game, and didn’t ask to sit at the number of handicap seats that were open in front of us.
· The biggest downside in the stadium– no information anywhere – the video/reply board was behind us and there was only three little information bars around the stadium and two of them usually had adds on them. I was using twitter to see down and distance for most of the first half.
· The UConn fans started to get a little chippy at the end of the first half and for much of the second half. There were also a number of Ohio State fans – who I guess were there to see if Michigan would lose? One random guy in a Michigan state windbreaker seemed to follow us around as well.
· There were a ton of games between the plays – students tried to kick field goals, throw footballs into a hole, trivia, they played follow the football under the three helmets, they threw t-shirts into the stands, all during timeouts.
· They were stuck in the 80s – they played Guns and Roses, Def Leopard, and a whole lot of 80s rock during the game. Every third down of Michigan’s the PA would play welcome to the jungle. It got old.
· It was weird to see a grass field. Any stop in action there were kids out there fixing it.
· This was a huge game for UConn – they honored past captains of the UConn football team, as well the 2013 woman’s basketball team with Geno Auriemma. Ray Allen and Donny Marshall were also on the field and spoke during breaks in the game.
· At one point they showed Derek Jeter on the video board – and everyone booed. More Red Sox fans than Yankees fans in Hartford I suppose, and I am assuming he was showing his Michigan pride and not UConn spirit. His lady friend did not look pleased to be there.
· They showed their video highlight of past seasons…it was a DJ Hernandez TD. No mention of his current coaching position and certainly no mention of his brother, Aaron.
· They were not equipped to deal with getting the largest crowd ever at the stadium (42,000 how cute) out of there- we sat in the parking lot for 30 minutes without moving. It was a long game, but we still didn’t make it home until 2 am. Unclear if Cabela’s would have been open but we were really craving cheese bread