Regarding the numbers of OSU fans in MIchigan Stadium

Submitted by Section 1 on November 22nd, 2009 at 4:32 PM

I posted this information on an MGoBlog thread, that seems to have been buried, and was apparently little-noticed.  I'll repeat it here, in a Diary entry.

There is, I think, something of a technical explanation for some of the effect seen at the OSU game.

For about four or five years now, beginning with their drawn-up master plans for the stadium renovations, the Athletic Department has planned to perform in-bowl renovations to match the outer-bowl new construction in the form of the two major structures on the east and west sides of the bowl. 

The design and the progress of the outside-of-the-bowl is obvious for all to see.  The plans for the inside-the-bowl renovations were mostly invisible, until last Saturday.

AFTER the completion of the two giant outside structures, with a large amount of new seating available, the Athletic Department plans to proceed with inside-the-bowl renovations, including widened aisles, and, to the best of my knowledge, widened seat spacing.  As a result, some seating within the bowl will be lost, to be made up in terms of total numbers by club seating and other premium seating.  In other words, in case you didn't know it, the new premium seating will add several thousand new seats, but the old-bowl renovations will eliminate several thousand seats, with only a small net gain in total seating.

With those long-range plans for the in-bowl renovations, the Athletic Department has been "banking" all of the non-renewed season tickets. With those "banked" seats, the Athletic Department plans to be able to do the aforementioned aisleway widening, handrail addtions and (hooray) widened seat-numbering, with a minimum of inconvenience and movement to existing season ticket seat holders.  Some season ticket holders might be moved, but with all of the "banked" seats at its disposal, the Ticket Office thinks it can minimize any inconvenience to season ticket holders who, for instance, currently have seats on an aisle that will be lost to aisleway widening.  They had to utilize that same process, on a slightly smaller scale, in order to be able to construct the handicapped seating mezzanine.

In the meantime, it means that the Athletic Department has larger numbers of individul and/or package tickets to sell.
All of which were converted from abandoned season ticket subscriptions.  And those package/game tickets can be picked up by anybody.

If you had wanted to conduct an experiment at the time of the OSU game, all you had to do was ask to see the tickets of any of those OSU fans; I have every presumption that in most cases, thetickets held by Buckeye fans would surely have been small and white, not the larger color photo-background tickets that go to season ticket holders.

This problem will be less and less of an issue in the future, as season-ticket assignments within the bowl get settled after renovations are completed.

Now, if anybody doesn't believe me, or doesn't want to believe me, or simply wants to maintain a kind of mythologized class-war about Michigan Stadium patrons, I sincerely suggest that an interview with Marty Bodnar of Joe Parker on this subject will be the best way to test my theory and reporting.  If Brian wants to deputize me for the purpose, I'll be happy to make a call to the ticket office.

As for big blocks of OSU fans in Michigan Stadium:  Michigan has long prided itself on being the most hospitable stadium in the Big Ten to visiting fans; nobody makes available more visiting-team tickets then we do.  The block-seating areas include (and have always, always done this for OSU, MSU and other nearby rivals) the lower-row seats in Section 44, which go to opposing coaches' and players' guests.  Also the top rows of the South endzone sections (generally opponent-students), as well as a block in the lower-center area of the South endzone (generally opponent alumni and boosters).

Lastly; as many have observed, on chilly days, Michigan fans are liable to be wearing navy sweaters and jackets.  The OSU scarlet really stands out.  (cf; Notre Dame.)  And, for people in Columbus, the Michigan game is the biggest day of the year.  They smelled blood in the water this year, and many of them made the effort, got the tickets, and came north.  Do not for a moment think that ticket brokers missed an opportunity to purchase a package of tickets that included Eastern and Delaware State, simply to get ahold of OSU tickets, and sell them in Columbus.  Those tickets, the package tickets, are quite likely part of the "bank" of tickets that the Athletic Department is holding only until 2010 or 2011, for the completion of the stadium renovations.



November 22nd, 2009 at 4:45 PM ^

I was at the game. Not a noticeable difference in opposing-fan attendance than at other games. I estimated 5% "red." My friend with me estimated 4%. My wife, watching on TV, said "whole stadium" was red. Now, there were some Buck-nuts throughout the stadium, but in very small pockets, and scattered. It may be that red "stands out" in ways that darker colors (blue) do not. This was NOT a red crowd.


November 22nd, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

Take a look at the game highlights on ESPN - it starts with a shot of the stadium. It looks embarrassingly red. It seemed like there were more OSU fans when I was in the stadium, and that overhead clip of the stadium shows it's even worse than I imagined.


November 22nd, 2009 at 8:48 PM ^

I was sitting under the press box (Section 22). Believe me, there were plenty of Buckeyes around us, too. There was a group of five right behind me. One of 'em stepped on the cheap plastic hat you see in my avatar, which, like, whatever, I was hoping to retire that thing by 2010 anyway.

Fortunately for my sanity, they kept going out every 5 minutes for a cigarette.


November 22nd, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

I think there was more than 5% my Opinion. When they started doing the O-H-I-O chant around our stadium, I couldn't believe how loud they were...that means they were all over the stadium. Also, when the blue started to boo during the chant, you could still hear it! TOO MUCH RED in that stadium yesterday...YUCK!


November 22nd, 2009 at 4:50 PM ^

Thank you, Sec 1, for this excellent explanation. People snatched up the OSU packages (with EMU and DSU) at $165 because they were cheaper than a normal OSU single (usually >$200).

There are many reasons for the red in the stadium on Saturday - from red is a brighter color, to the seats we give to OSU each year, to UM season ticket holders selling tickets, to the athletic department selling these packages. As you noted, the AthDept had a very good reason for selling these packages, but to the extent that anyone is to "blame" (and I'm not sure any blame is necessary) the AthDept probably gets a share of it, too.


November 22nd, 2009 at 5:23 PM ^

Thank you for attempting to be logical with this, although I suspect it's going to be lost in the "ONLY MICHIGAN FANS SHOULD EVER HAVE MICHIGAN TICKETS" mentality that's sweeping the boards.

All these are from the past day, and are either directly about all of the "traitors" in our midst or devolve into it partially through the thread.

There are valid reasons for the amount of OSU fans in the stadium and the amount of visible red. Getting people to listen to them is another matter entirely.


November 22nd, 2009 at 5:27 PM ^

This explanation makes sense to me. I was among the group (of Michigan fans) who bought these one-time-only season tickets. They were small, white tickets.

I wondered if there were any OSU-related packages. I bought the entire season for $400 (times two). If there was a subset OSU package for $165 that would fully explain a large number of those seats available. I'm sure those busy Buckeye fans would tip each other off to their availability.

There definitely were more visiting fans there than usual. And they did stand out more because they all wear red. Some of the estimates I've seen (20%) are much exaggerated. 5-8% seems about right to me.

Excellent post.


November 22nd, 2009 at 6:07 PM ^

I also know part of the problem is the season ticket renewals hit an all time low after last season. I got 2 renewable season tickets this year with no prior donating history and only donating $300. My seats are in section 12, right where I asked to be and inside of row 50. Also, for the first time that I could remember the ticket office put OSU tickets on sale to the general public, albeit in a 3 game package as mentioned above. I think that package going on sale was the main reason that O$U seemed to have more fans than normal.


November 22nd, 2009 at 6:23 PM ^

Let them in. Then beat the crap out of theIr team. This will stop being a problem when Michigan returns to form, which I expect under Rodriguez, but will happen, as it has for more than a century.

I'm not complacent; I expect UM to do what needs to be done.


November 22nd, 2009 at 8:47 PM ^

it works pretty well. Granted Purdue never sells out Ross-Ade, and when ND or someone else buys a lot of tickets and then makes noise all game and wins, it sucks, but this year, from what I understand, Purdue made a lot of money from people who traveled from Ohio, and they sure didn't make much noise in the fourth quarter.

It will happen in Ann Arbor again, and I totally agree with you. Take their money, let them in, beat up their team, and let them leave. In peace. (Well, perhaps with a few questions about how Mr. Cooper is doing.) Ann Arbor isn't Columbus, we don't need to behave like them.

Besides, the alternative simply isn't going to happen. Obviously we'll continue to sell the required block of tickets, and outside of that there's simply no feasible way to restrict where tickets go. Hell, some ways of doing it would probably be illegal.


November 22nd, 2009 at 6:49 PM ^

My seats are in section 1, row 28, and not near the aisle, and I have had them for a while. Most of the seats in our section are licensed by alumni who have been there for quite some time. Yesterday, I recognized very few of the people who normally occupy the seats. My son and I were surrounded by OSU folks, including four ladies, all recent OSU grads in front of us, who were disgustingly nice. My guess is that there were at least 10 percent OSU fans in our section and probably a good deal more than that. I find that damned cheer they do around OUR stadium appalling in that we let it occur.

ND was the only other school we played at home this year with a good number of fans in attendance, and they were not close in number to what I saw yesterday.

Feat of Clay

November 22nd, 2009 at 7:16 PM ^

Echoing what others said--I saw it on TV and found it surprising how "red" the stadium appeared, but on wider shots from the field it didn't look so bad. I'm not sure what was at work there.

I appreciate the OP. We all know how nuts OSU fans are--it's a huge game to them, no matter what kind of team we're fielding that year; of course they're going to make a big effort to obtain whatever seats were available, through whatever means.

I'm glad that we can be hospitable -- and can hopefully show some of them a thing or two about manners and class. Would that it sticks.


November 22nd, 2009 at 10:42 PM ^

has a low wavelength, so it kind of blends with the colors around it. The stadium definitely looked more red in the screens.

That said, from my view in the student section (which shouldn't even count in these considerations... it should be near 100% Maize n Blue for this game) I would say there were probably between 20-30% Buckeyes, considering that many of them would not be wearing red.


November 22nd, 2009 at 8:04 PM ^

Another reason for the number of OSU fans in attendance is the close proximity to the Ohio border and the large number of OSU fans in Northwest Ohio. Compared to a Michigan fan that has a minimum 3 hour drive to Columbus to get treated like crap for 4 hours on a saturday afternoon. This post explains the number of red visible in the high dollar seats between the 10 yard lines especially on the East side of the stadium. Don't believe for one second that their weren't any Michigan season tickets holders that sold tickets to Buckeyes. The number of OSU fans reminded me of how Sparty buys all of the upper bowl tickets and takes over Crisler. It was sickening especially during the O-H-I-O chant. The band needed to do something or atleast play music over the loud speakers to drown them out.


November 22nd, 2009 at 8:08 PM ^

It was sickening. 10% red couldn't be that loud or get the chant O H I O so easily flowing around the stadium. It was ridiculous & I hated every bit of it. If it weren't for the student section they easily would have been just about 40% of the stadium. And my guess is they had around a 35% overall showing inside the stadium. So many fans were bitching and pissed as they left saying the exact same thing. I want to feel like I am at the Bighouse representing Michigan with a 90% turnout of my people. Not like I am at a neutral site. The last time I was in Columbus was 2006 & we smelled a national championship, yet i didn't see more than 5% in the Shoe. Bullshit.


November 22nd, 2009 at 8:12 PM ^

Ohio State fans come to Ann Arbor because Michigan fans are for the most part relatively respectful. There would be more Michigan fans at the games in Columbus if we knew that we would not be physically abused. It's that simple.


November 22nd, 2009 at 9:20 PM ^

But I bought those ticket packages this year, $400 for all 8 games, bought 4 tickets actually. I wanted to be select with my OSU tickets, and keep them for Michigan fans. I wasn't even asking over face value.

I couldn't give the damn things away to Michigan fans. In the end, I sold them to two friends (a Buckeye and an Iowa State fan) and a really nice old lady who was a Buckeye fan before the game. It was really sad to see the disinterest in the game by fans.

And just like I experienced when at the Oregon game in 2007, Ohio State 2007, Illinois 2008, MSU 2008, and Ohio State this year, Michigan fans left at the first sign of trouble in the fourth quarter. Ohio State fans were right to do that goodbye cheer as Michigan fans poured out of the stadium after Forcier through his third pick in the end zone. Heck, I still believed they had a chance after the fourth pick (that is until DRob was brought in).

Not only was I upset at fans for leaving early, but the things said about Tate. He's a true freshman, he's GOING to make bad mistakes at times. He had a bad game against Ohio State, the biggest game of his life. He's still a true freshman. It's not like he's a fifth year senior who shouldn't make those mistakes (and still, lets show so class). I am just getting disappointed in Michigan fans more and more.

I felt a bit like the Nebraska/ND game in the early 2000s when ND students and fans sold their tickets expecting a blow out. The stands were a sea of red, and I remember hearing the loud cheers for Nebraska when the took the field, and the boos for ND when they took the field. ND nearly one that game, despite playing in front of a hostile crowd. I kind of felt like that yesterday, particularly in the south end zone.

So fans need attend the games, especially against or biggest rivals. $50 to see your Wolverines play their hated rivals. Come on, you can afford it.


November 22nd, 2009 at 9:54 PM ^

Judge for yourself. Not counting the normal section at the top of the south enzone, I'd put the percentage in the mid- to low single digits. If you add in the 2/3 designated sections of OSU fans, then I could MAYBE see an argument for 9-10%.

10 percent = 10,900 people. If you don't think that many people can be loud, well, you're wrong.


November 22nd, 2009 at 9:59 PM ^

Or does it seem like most of these OSU fans probably never went to much past the ninth grade. They must be spending a couple of weeks worth of pay to get to and in the Big House. Just that is touching but to see a 250 lb 5'5" guy doing the hula dance with warpaint on occupying his primo 45 yard line seats is amazing. To think all of it just to see us!


November 22nd, 2009 at 10:15 PM ^

There's one more important factor: geography.

Ann Arbor is 45 minutes from Toledo. Columbus is 2.5 hours from anywhere in Michigan.

Add the numerous other factors mentioned (seating changes, general malaise of UM fans, etc. . .) and you have a Big House full of Buckeyes.

Although I understand why it happened, I couldn't stand seeing all those OSU fans singing O-H-I-O at the end.

I also got stuck next to Superfan and his cowbell (see post from a few months ago revealing him as an assface), so this was not the ideal gameday experience by any means.

Anyway, did someone say something about our promising basketball season starting?


November 22nd, 2009 at 11:24 PM ^

I'm from Toledo originally (lifelong U-M fan and alumnus), but I don't think its proximity is a reason for the fandom. The city is split between OSU-Mich (maybe even with a slight M tinge).

I don't think geographic distance is key to the truly disgusting sight on display on Saturday. The factors above and a willingness for M fans to sell to the Enemy are probably more apt explanations.


November 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 AM ^

I'm from the Toledo area as well. I'm not trying to say Toledo is a hotbed of OSU fandom (although my estimate is 70% or more OSU). I'm just trying to say it's more complicated. Geography affects the demand side of the equation. One of my best childhood friends is a mild OSU fan in Toledo. He wouldn't normally attend the game, but he did this time because it was cheap (factors already noted) and easy (geography).

The Claw

November 22nd, 2009 at 10:36 PM ^

From a visiting team in the stadium. Made me sick. You could tell lots of people sold them on Stub hub or the like. Wished our fans had more faith. Take away the turnovers and we win that game. They played that well. Then those people who sold their tickets would have been really mad!


November 22nd, 2009 at 11:55 PM ^

The stadium had 110,000. 15% of that is about 16,000 fans. Put a few drops of red dye in water and you see a lot of red. It does catch the eye, just like cops can see red cars easier than darker colored cars when using radar at a speed trap.

Nonetheless, I've gone to 100+ UM games over the years. OSU always travels well, but that is clearly the MOST OSU fans I've ever seen in the Big House. The first UM play of the game, they stuffed us and the cheers went up. You'd think that we had just run for 10 yds and not got stuffed for a 2 yd loss.

A few OSU fans were telling me that the games like USC and Iowa last week would sell for $200-$250 per ticket. The $165 price for EMU-DSU-OSU was a bargain to them. Especially when you consider that we have won 1 time in 9 years. Hey, that gave us a bit extra room for the EMU and DSU games to sit in our seat.

Canham told of the time he advertised UM tickets in OHIO of all places to get people to fill the Big House for the 1969 game. Word is that some 20,000 OSU fans were there for the game. Canham had no idea that we would be 7-2 going into the game.

Yes, the O-H-I-O cheer as OSU's band played the "Hang on Snoopy" song was nauseating. But, that's the tradition of college football.

RichRod's job is to get this team where it is as good as OSU. Except for 2003 (our last win) and 2004 (when we got smoked even though we had the better team at 8-2), OSU has had better teams or at least as good. The only evenly matched teams were in 2001 and perhaps 2007 (if Henne and Hart hadn't been hurt). The troubles go back before RichRod.

If we are significantly better matched by the time the 2011 game rolls around in A-Squared, RichRod will be sharpening up his resume.


November 23rd, 2009 at 8:56 AM ^

It is better to hear that those inside the stadium only estimated 5-10% of the patrons were actually OSU supporters. However, when I was in school, the Athletic Department made a big push to create "Maize Outs" much like the "White Outs" of PSU. These seemed to be quite successful, and it was apparent who "owned" the stadium that day. Actually, one of the most memorable "Maize Outs" was the last second comeback win over PSU in 2005 (even though the student T-shirt was blue that year, but that's another story).

Has the Athletic Department stopped sponsoring these events? I know the weather does not promote wearing the maize T-shirts that most students got this year, but it seems like cold weather venues like Camp Randall and Beaver Stadium both produce overwhelming blocks of red and white, respectively.

It could be a consequence of the renovations, or of a lame duck AD, but there needed to be some kind of crowd support during the game since it was, in fact, in Ann Arbor.

If the Athletic Department will push for getting a true home field advantage, than maybe it's time for the fans, students, boosters and alumni to start stepping up.


November 24th, 2009 at 6:00 PM ^

If you sell tickets sell it to the right team.C'mon M fans we seriously got embarrassed on live TV. you should have seen all of the red.WE had the student section but that's about it.I wanted to throw up.All that red it's disgusting.To bad we'll crush next year even with all those retarded OSU fans there.


December 7th, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

We as fans and the Michigan Athletic Department need to realize that “Maize-outs” barley work for warm weather games in which anyone of us could pick up a $10 tee let alone should they be expected to work in late November games when the temperature is usually in the 40’s, and most of us are bundled up under heavy coats and blankets that just don’t seem to lend themselves to the color Maize. Bottom line is “Maize” aka Yellow isn’t going to be worn all that much outside the confines of the big house. If one looked in my closet they’d come to find I have only (2) Maize Michigan T; compared to another 15-20 shirts that are Blue, Gray, and/or White. People don’t want to spend a few dollars let alone hundreds of dollars on apparel that’s yellow to keep warm in. There’s a reason why we don’t have Maize Jersey’s….it’s just not that flattering and/or intimating. The only way the Athletic Department is going to get this to work is if they supply the fans with free Maize Apparel on their seats for them to wear during the games, or they come up with a catchy name that promotes us to wear our Blue attire.