Attendees of the Big House: Has your game day experience become too commodified?

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on November 25th, 2013 at 2:11 PM

John U. Bacon recently quoted his new book on Twitter by posting the following statement by a friend of his:

“Michigan athletics used to feel like something we shared. Now it’s something they hoard... Anything of value they put a price tag on. Anything that appeals to anyone is kept locked away, and only brought out if you pay for it... And what’s been permanently banished is any sense of generosity.”

Bacon added the following: The suits will find your fun, buy it up, and charge you for it.


If you are a season ticket holder or frequent attendee of home games, does this fit your experience?  If so, how? 
I have watched the vast majority of Michigan games from the comfort and safety of my bathysphere*, so I have no opinion on the matter and don't mean to engender any particular response. 
A final thought:  It would be better to say (if this is even accurate) "My game day experience has changed for worse since Brandon became AD in ways X, Y, and Z" than to say "Dave Brandon sucks!"   That being said, it's a free world, baby.




November 25th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

branden* not bradon :). 

i alway enjoy michigan football. every saturday, rain or snow, sunshine or clear sky, cloud or night, breathe in that big house air and chear on wolverines. 

goooooo blueeeeeee


November 25th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

I think the souvenir cups are nice (i keep them on my desk at work) but I don't really notice much outside of the football.  I didn't go to games regularly before DB became AD though, so I'm not a good person to ask about the comparison, but I don't really have a problem with the way things are now.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

Prices have gone up but of course things are going to have price tags on them. This is a capitalistic society and football is at the center of American sports. That said, the prices are still high and are probably raised at the expense of more complete student section, crowds, etc. (JUB also has a quote on this in his book, I believe). In essence the product on the field needs to match the price being charged for this to make sense. Until then it is probably overpriced. So far no indication that either (price or product) will change. I personally think the product will get better, but the price will further increase as well.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

Obviously the scene is different now than thirty years ago.  I'm not convinced that it's gone from a golden age era to some pit of despair ruled by scheming villains.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:58 PM ^

and they don't sell streamers. Also can't bring in a thermos with hot chocolate and peppermint schnaps. The whole ambiance is ruined!


(I did find a few mini-airline bottles rolling down under my seat last time, so I suppose there is that option.)

Seriously - there is a long gap between 1987 and last year, an other than a now broken horizon: the bathroom lines are still long, the food is still expensive, people still boo when the coaches call for a run up the middle for no gain on first down, but being inside that bowl is still 100% awesome.

I don't mind the piped music that much, and the students singing "you suck" to Temptation is really kind of funny - they seem to be having a good time with it.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

I think the program is in real trouble next season, and 110,000 may only get topped once at most with that pathetic home schedule that we have. My Dad and I are season ticket holders and we are just selling them onto the secondary market because there are no games outside of Penn State worth going to see in person, ecspecially if this coaching staff returns. It's not even about the price, it's the product from Michigan and Michigan's opponents.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

If the entire coaching staff as it is right now returns, you can bet if you were at the Nebraska game you just saw the 250th and last Michigan game in a row with 100,000 Michigan fans. I bet there will be 30,000 osu fans there on Saturday, and I have a hard time seeing there being 100,000 fans for Appalachian State next year. 


November 25th, 2013 at 3:12 PM ^

It seems to me that enough people value the experience of being at Michigan Stadium that the price of the experience is perhaps highly inelastic compared to other programs. In other words, even if there is no change in the staff and despite a "blech" home schedule next year, more often than not, those seats will be filled. I have a difficult time seeing where the effects of protests such as the ones proposed on this blog over the last several weeks will be an immediate concern for the athletic department's revenue picture, or at least, it may take longer for it to be a problem than it might in other places. 


November 25th, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it.  I enjoy the stadium experience.  I don't have a problem paying money for things I like.  Tickets and concessions have never been free, have they?  Water is free at the Hydration Station.  I'm wondering what it is that used to be free, which was bought up, then sold to me?

Chunks the Hobo

November 25th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

I think the stadium atmosphere has decidedly degraded, thanks mostly to RAWK/RAPP and a few other things, although I know there are people who like that shit for some reason.

I don't know if it's any more "commodified" than it's been since I've been going, though (since ca. 1990). But I do agree the MBA types definitely look for ways to charge people for shit that maybe used to be free (or seem to be free, maybe they were just sponsored by some entity that pulled its support). It's just the way it is, so long as people will buy.

Worse than anything, though, IMO, is the increasing police state bullshit. This year's Main Street play pen for bored cops is just as ridiculous as it is disgusting. Really not a fan of that decision nor of the creeping "Homeland Security" encroachments. Sorry if that's veering too near politics, but it is a real turnoff.

name redacted

November 25th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

Having gone to the Michigan State game this year, 1000 times no. The entire time I felt like I was at a hyped up Arena League football game.

The game day experience at Michigan is still authentic, and almost everything I want attending a college game. State and a number of other colleges game day experience feels fake and manufactured like cheap plastic.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

Well considering face value for tickets is ninety five freaking dollars, water is $4, and food is $5 and we have pretty much been subjected to terrible football at home this year since the notre dame game, I think people are just asking themselves ''is it worth it anymore?'' And don't give me the ''Dave Brandon is a businessman'' bullcrap. When you charge people this much for a mac level product theyre going to be pissed. 


November 25th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

I don't know that it's the Gameday experience, as much as it is the relentless idea that Michigan athletics is something to be sold to you.  I suppose it's great that I get emails thrice weekly about the women's basketball team playing at home or some such, but it's also the sort of cheesy LCD manner that they are written that makes me feel like it's minor league.  

Michigan has always commoditized the experience, just read Canham's ~From the Inside~, but the difference is, and Bacon gets to this in ~Fourth and Long~ is where the money is going?  Is this money that is being asked for us from every corner going towards something other than building athletics palaces on South Campus for every sport?  And is that really what we need/want?  It's not a value judgment, I think it's great that we want to treat our crew athletes as well as any other for instance, but you just start to wonder if that monetary capture is easy when things aren't going well.

Take the stadium, as one example.  I am sure many of us here walked into the stadium on an off day, took a look around, walked on the field maybe even.  But between security and monetization, you can't do that any more, but you can take the Friday tour for $10.

Take the schedule poster issue this year.  Awesome 3-D lenticular schedule poster...that we want to sell to you for $5 when the traditional one has been free.  (BTW, this did not go as well as hoped, given that they were giving them out to season ticket holders at the M-Den this past weekend.)

I feel like Bacon's quote is on, even if I know it's not the whole story, because I feel like the idea that the things that we like can have a price tag placed on them is the way of the world today.  There were price tags in the past, but they were fewer and further between.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

The old versions of the posters were free and were posted everywhere, but I'm guessing they were much cheaper to produce.  I think they had ads on them too right?  So maybe they were free (for the AD) to produce.  The 3-D posters are cool and they don't have ads ... that's why they are $5.

The stadium open door policy was nice while it lasted, but I understand discontinuing this perk due to the new structures they built.  There is more at risk now, if they were to just let people in and run the steps and explore: Break-ins, vandalism, overall security of new spaces.  Plus the $10 tour allows you to see the luxury boxes that you can't even get access to on gameday.

I see your point here.  I also understand the AD point of view, the $5 posters and the $10 tours.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

I dont feel that way.  I like rocket man and the new intro's on the new bigger video panels.  I like the piped in muzak (really - I DO like it) and I like that the band is now apparently mike'd up and I can hear them in section three a little bit.  I liked the sky writing (over our stadium at least) and I thought the UTL II halftime show was fantastic.  

What I don't like is the product on the field right now and the very high cost of attendance relative to my enjoyment in watching the games in person.


November 25th, 2013 at 8:53 PM ^

Would what is being mentioned here really be irritants if we could go back to the good ol' days of, say $50 tickets and no PSLs?  Detroit Lions tickets start at $47 for the cheap seats.

I think a lot of the complaints, indeed the OP's topic, are proxies for the ever-escalating cost without commensurate on field success and fan delight.

X = We used to win more

Y = It used to cost less


November 29th, 2013 at 9:54 PM ^

Michigan Stadium has sold out for 1,000,000,000 games in a row while the Lions had to build a smaller stadium so that their home games wouldn't be blacked out anymore. The demand is not even close.

Also, Lions ticket prices will go up next year, as the team is winning. Winning drives demand up.

The only thing that matters is winning. If Michigan was winning, MGrowOld would probably grit his teeth and sign the ever-more-expensive cheque.

ole luther

November 25th, 2013 at 9:01 PM ^

(replying to #27 - not #16)

I agree with most of what u've said however a difference in years does exist. We held 4 season tix for 26 years and also enjoyed the added entertainment that came along with the changing world. Sure, prices increase, however, the cost of literally everything involved with a game day experience rose much higher than anyone's wages did over the same period of time. The flyovers, the parachuters, rocketman,...all very cool. Even the piped in music was alright at the onset, but, a song here and there is one thing......not being able to speak to those around us who had also been coming for a very long time, was ridiculous. 

For years, we tolerated a horrible speaker system but could still hear the radio coverage through our headsets (impossible now). In recent years, we could no longer carry on a conversation with those around us without screaming into each other's ears....never get a break from the constant barrage of external noise and finally, after years of requests, could hear the band in the South end. Unfortunately, all we heard was the same piped music, multiple times, droning on and on throughout the entire season while only hearing the band a time or two each game.

We understood the changing times. We understood the added security after 9/11. We realized we were getting older and they were attempting to keep things "young" but they lost us from overdoing it.  Part of a gameday experience is some of the people whom u've met over the years and are always there. 26 years....we had a good 20 year run but all things considered, they've made just about every possible mistake they could have made to keep truly, loyal fans content and willing to spend money. Honestly, we never discussed paying for an inferior product. We loved coming to A2 on gameday but enough was enough.

Football should be about the experience....the football experience. The cheerleaders, the band, the team, the crowd, the radio announcer as well as the stadium announcer. A small amount of outside force is acceptable. It has become a "show" more than a sporting event. Fine for those who enjoy it. Not us. Not anymore.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:39 PM ^

Yeah I have zero idea what Bacon is referring to here. The gameday experience feels the same for all intents and purposes once I enter the stadium as it did 5 and 10 years ago. Having been to NW, Purdue, PSU and IU in my time, the complaints people have had are laughable for the most part. I can still hear the band and they get plenty of time during the game. I don't see ads plastered all over the place and every little thing isn't sponsored.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^ as to market his book, increase his sales, and brand himself as the savior of college football as it once was. Isn't it ironic, don't you think? I little too ironic.

Tony Soprano

November 25th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

The price of everything in the stadium (concessions, souvenirs, etc..) has gone up while the quality and/or quantity has gone down.  The food is so disgusting.  

My kids always wants snacks/foods and when we buy them they are always stale, cold, burnt, etc...  Kettle corn is the only good thing there and this year, the bag is smaller and it costs a dollar more.  Pizza is cold, stale - it must sit there at least 4-5 hours before they sell and it costs $9 (used to be $6).  I ordered a pulled chicken sandwich - it was cold and so burnt that it was seriously mostly charcoal - $12.   The soft pretzels aren't soft at all - they're cold and hard.  Now, I could have gone back and gotten my money in return, but I'd miss about 5 minutes of the game at least and it's just not been worth it. 

The concessions have gotten worse each year and I just do not understand how Michigan does not care about the quality in its concessions.   We're now at the point where we make sure we always eat before the game and only get kettle corn in the stadium. 

Section 1

November 26th, 2013 at 11:25 AM ^

Who buys food when you are going to a Michigan football game?

I generally arrive from a tailgate party, where we've been enjoying really really good food and drink; the best, in fact.  

I always looked at people lining up for craptastic stadium-type food and wonder what they were doing before the game.  The shit that is sold is just horrific.  Nachos slathered with cheese-substitute-product.  Hot dogs.  Kettle corn.  


I bring an apple in my pocket for halftime.  I'll buy a bottle of water on a hot day.  A cup of coffee on a cold day.  (With a little Baileys and Kalhua and/or cognac, it's nice.)

But really; who wants to miss a minute of what is happening inside the stadium, to wait in a line to buy the garbage that is sold on the outside?  Is there something about a stadium event that drives people to buy and consume the worst food imaginable?

As far as the prices go; my contempt for the product makes the price mostly irrelevant to me.  But since my PSD is now $2,400 -- before I buy four season tickets at almost $95 each, for each and every game -- the cost and quality of soft pretzels isn't really on my radar.


November 25th, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

I understand you have a large and diverse fan base to cater to.  But not everybody has to love every song played.  Be unique, and in time those who weren't familiar with it will will get familiar with it.  There are so many M fans and alums who could do a great, unique, and authentically Michigan thing with the music.  And do it sparingly. 

Most of the video board stuff has been been great, loved the addition of the walk from the locker room this year.

Section 1

November 26th, 2013 at 11:31 AM ^

If Michigan is going to interfere with the band, and bludgeon us with recorded music, at least make it funny and smart and entertaining.

I do not want Michigan Stadium to look and sound and feel like every other big stadium, be it the NFL or NBA or anything similar.  Everybody does Seven Nation Army.  The Red Sox -- the fucking Red Sox -- invented "Sweet Caroline" as an anthem.  I feel like I am at a Red Wings game when they play Journey.

We have a marching band.  One of the greatest marching bands in the history of the genre.  Feature them.

One other point this week is that the Ohio State Marching Band will be in the House and when we have two bands there, the need and the point of recorded music is almost beyond understanding.