Michigan: Prioritizing Profits Over Fan Safety

Submitted by Bando Calrissian on September 17th, 2018 at 4:49 PM

Brian's game recap hints at the mounting frustrations many of us have with the Michigan Stadium experience in 2018. For me, Saturday's game highlighted one glaring issue: The Athletic Department's policies on water bottles in the stadium on hot-weather days.

With a ban on water bottles in the stadium, and a price point of $4.50-5.50 for a bottle of water, the University of Michigan is prioritizing profits over fan safety and health.

After a brutal first quarter baking in the sun on Saturday, I went out to the concourse to grab some water and hit the bathroom. What I saw shocked me. I saw parents holding up their dehydrated kid as he sat over a trash can, puking his guts out. Overheated people were sitting against the columns. Ambulance golf carts whizzed around with sirens blaring. It looked like a disaster film. And that was after one quarter.

There has to be a better, safer way than this.

Prior to 2010, one could bring in a sealed water bottle with no questions asked. For eight years, we have collectively griped about this issue, to no avail. It's time Athletics took action. No one is trying to sneak in a bottle of vodka when it's 90 degrees outside--they're trying not to pass out. There should be better, safer options than expecting the dehydrated to pony up a Lincoln for a water bottle, or wait in a long line to down a cup or two of free Absopure, which can't really be taken into your seat without spilling.

So, a proposal: How about designated water bottle days? 24-48 hours before kickoff, Athletics can announce, based on anticipated weather, that water bottles will be allowed to be taken in to the stadium. Alternately, as is the case with many concerts and public events, and even airport security, empty water bottles could be allowed in the gates, provided they can be shown to be empty. Filling stations already exist outside several bathrooms around the concourse, in addition to water fountains. If I can take an empty Nalgene into a major concert venue, why can't I take one into Michigan Stadium?

It's time the Athletic Department took fan safety into account. Water sales are not making or breaking the bottom line on any given game day. The health and enjoyment of all in the stadium is too important to prioritize a $5 bottle of water over trips to overtaxed Red Cross first aid stations and stays in the hospital.



September 17th, 2018 at 5:42 PM ^

So you are prioritizing convenience over health?  If the it is hot outside and you can’t afford the $5 bottles of water, I suggest not going.  I don’t consider this Michigan prioritizing money over safety, I consider it bad planning by the fans.

Note:  I am a person who gave up his season tickets this year because the experience was not worth the money.

snarling wolverine

September 17th, 2018 at 5:55 PM ^

If they want to charge a fortune for awful stadium food, that’s one thing, but I think our esteemed university - “the best in the world,” per James Earl Jones - could do a little better than gouge us on something we need to survive.  

Otherwise, why stop there?  Why not make us pay to use the toilet, too?  “If you can’t pay it, don’t go,” right?


September 17th, 2018 at 9:17 PM ^

That seems to be a bit of a jump.  You went right to being personal, which’s says everything you need to know.  I merely pointed out that fans are just as capable of watching the weather and planning appropriately or deciding not to go.  As noted there are water refilling stations, buy one and refill it as much as you want. 


September 18th, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

For some fans they buy tickets well in advance not knowing what the weather will be like and don’t want to sell or give away tickets that are either hard for them to obtain financially or a rare opportunity for them to go. Weather planning in these situations isn’t always as easy as the guy who lives in Ann Arbor and knows 100 people willing to buy his tickets. There should be multiple water fillings stations where you can fill a bottle you bring in (an empty one) instead of just two, and multiple drinking fountains throughout the facility as well in my opinion.


September 17th, 2018 at 8:26 PM ^

Wow, it's gotten even worse then.  The last time I ever bought water (or any other concessions) was the year they implemented this policy, and back then (2010?) they did give you the "collector" bottle (which of course was a piece of crap, just with a little Michigan Stadium sticker on it).

When we already pay a fair amount for the tickets in the first place, is it really necessary to rip us off in concessions, too?  Is that really a good policy?  As noted, I haven't bought any concessions at all for several years now - and very few other people in my section seem to do so, either.  


Rose Bowl

September 17th, 2018 at 9:27 PM ^

OP what you say is 100% correct.  If i wasn't able to bring in a large unopened bottle of water as a student I probably wouldn't have made the game.  Not only was it a health situation I was also able to cheer loudly when hydrated.  It's difficult and a PITA to go up the stairs during a game.  I never moved.

Are we trying to please Absopure?  What's the deal here?  It is a major situation that Warde needs to fix along with the rivalry away games.


September 17th, 2018 at 4:56 PM ^

I have done ZERO research to back this up but your issue with just deciding "it's hot, bring your water bottles..." may lie not with the AD but Homeland Security. 

901 P

September 17th, 2018 at 8:55 PM ^

Yep. I went to a game at Target Field in Minneapolis earlier this year and the policy was that you could bring an empty water bottle and fill it at filling stations throughout the stadium. It was a hot day, so they also had some of those huge orange Gatorade water dispensers at various spots throughout the stadium. At Fenway we brought in sealed water bottles and then I filled them at drinking fountains. (Of course, being super run down--er, "quaint and historic"--means very few drinking fountains and apparently no modern filling stations.)

Absurd that they couldn't come up with a reasonable policy at Michigan Stadium. 

scanner blue

September 17th, 2018 at 6:00 PM ^

We (scanner/security check guy here) do soften the policy at other venues on hot days. Soccer games in mid August have been in the 90's , softball and baseball are sometimes bad in the late part of the schedule. Drink what you can at the gate dump the rest and then go in and fill up. Why they don't have that policy at Michigan stadium is beyond me.


September 17th, 2018 at 7:25 PM ^

Nope. I went to a SF Giants game yesterday. You're allowed to bring in food and beverages, the only requirement is that bottles are unopened (and sealed).

You're welcome to bring an empty bottle as well.

I find it hard to believe that homeland security would have a different standard for one stadium vs. another. 

It's more likely that somebody decided it would take too long to search - and btw, it takes about 1/2 a second.

If it really were that big a deal, or somehow homeland security rules are different there, it would cost almost nothing to have a huge stack of large cups or plastic bottles waiting for people as they pass security, with enough drinking fountains/fill-up stations so people could easily get water.

It is absurd that they make it so hard to get water. Just ridiculous.

It's greed, pure and simple.

Tom Bombadil

September 17th, 2018 at 4:58 PM ^

Collapsible water bottles are allowed, or at least I saw a couple bringing them into the stadium as I was heading in. There's also free water cups at the hydration station by the student section (there may be more than one). I do agree the price for water should be reduced drastically especially on days like Saturday.

East German Judge

September 17th, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Hey AD, here is a thought, if you lower the price, you will sell a whole lot more AND may even make more money on a hot Saturday - make it up on volume! 

Same could be said for their over-priced food.  Always make sure to either tailgate or get a burger/dog from many of the outside vendors like my favorite No. 9 Burgers - https://www.facebook.com/No.9Hamburgers/


September 17th, 2018 at 8:34 PM ^

I often question the marketing people when they try and decide what would be best.  High price, but sell less or lower price and sell more.  You would think that if you sell for less and go for volume, not only would you make more but you would have much more satisfied customers, thus positive experience and more likely to come back and buy more.

I recently went to Magnolia Farms in Waco, TX where Chip and JoAnna Gaines from HGTV have attempted to run their business model.  I went in open minded but came away very disappointed.  $24 for a coffee mug or a small candle? $58 for a burlap carry bag? Seriously?  I saw WAY more people leaving empty-handed, probably 80-90%.  Where’s the logic?  I’ve done nothing but spread the word like right here.  Long term, it just can’t be good for business.


September 17th, 2018 at 5:35 PM ^

The whole thing is extravagantly overpriced.

I bought a "jumbo" hot dog for a family member yesterday -- it was $6 for a hot dog that was slightly longer than a regular one. It could not have cost more than 25 cents wholesale. It was thoroughly mediocre.

Coincidentally, I also bought a $4.50 water bottle and thought, "Not a bad deal, in comparison!" b/c it was *actually* jumbo sized at 25 oz.

I can kind of understand for-profit entities like the Lions or Disney World gouging people. But UM is nominally a non-profit. Even charging half the prices they do now would still be getting a 250-500% markup on most items. 

oriental andrew

September 17th, 2018 at 6:57 PM ^

I agree. If Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of the Atlanta Falcons) can do it, why can't Michigan?

They opened to great fanfare with the lowest concessions prices in the country. They just lowered them again.


They sell a 12oz craft beer for $5. That's lower than at most restaurants! They're doing things right over there.

It was honored as Sports Breakthrough of the Year by Sports Business Journal and several professional and collegiate teams and venues across the country have since followed MBS’s lead with dramatic food and beverage pricing adjustments.

During the 2017 Falcons and Atlanta United seasons, average spending on concessions increased at Falcons games by 16 percent per person over the previous season, despite a 50 percent decrease in pricing over the previous season. Data also showed that more than 6,000 Falcons fan per game entered the stadium as much as an hour earlier to take advantage of the options and pricing in the stadium.

“We’re thrilled to see others going this direction because fans win every time another one does, it’s as simple as that and we think the trend will continue,” Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said. “Earlier this year we changed some items our Atlanta fans said they didn’t want and the replacement items have shown a 23 percent higher consumption rate so far. Giving the fans what they want at a fair price will never fail.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium does not dynamically price food and beverage based on events. All pricing remains the same for any event in the stadium, which includes Super Bowl LIII to be played in the stadium next February.

Also, their water bottle policy:

Guests will not be allowed to bring any type of bottle, can, thermos or beverage container inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. However, fans will be allowed to bring one (1) factory-sealed, non-frozen 500mL (16.9 fl. Oz.) bottle of water (no soda, flavored water or sports drinks.) Parents with small children may bring plastic bottles of formula or milk inside of the stadium.