Potential Big House traffic jam

Submitted by wisecrakker on August 16th, 2011 at 9:46 AM



The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to send a strong message to the University of Michigan: Pay for city services on football Saturdays.

Now U-M has until Aug. 26 to strike a deal with the city to reimburse it for costs associated with providing traffic management services during Michigan football games and other special events at the Big House — in addition to the public safety services the city provides.



August 16th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

Wonder if the city of Ann Arbor actually realizes how huge an impact gameday has on the businesses in Ann Arbor. Having people manage the traffic so it doesn't get out of hand doesn't seem like a lot to ask in return.


August 16th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

This is a nationally televised event with huge implications for the Ann Arbor business community.  The difference being that folks will get to A2 earlier, spend more money, and likely hang with more people in total, than on an average 100,000 plus Saturday at the Big House.  Should be something special.  Doesn't seem like a few extra police officers should be a discussion point.

EDIT: Woops, I thought they meant for the Notre Dame Under the Lights "Gameday" -- guess I should freaking read the article.  Still, my point remains.  The city should love the University for the opportunity to support the needs of 100,000+ spending people.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:29 AM ^

Perhaps The University of Michigan should ask for some of the tax revenue being brought in by all the people who eat out or stay in Ann Arbor.  Fair's fair.

edit: wow, ok like 20 people said the same thing before I read further down.  Great minds think alike


August 16th, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

What tax revenue is the city getting from these people? Sales tax and hotel taxes go to the state, not the city. AA does not receive any funding to provide all of the police and traffic control. This money must then come out of other areas of the city's services.


August 16th, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

Property tax.  There is no way this city has all the hotels and dining options currently present without the University here.  

There are also indirects, like the University working out a deal with AATA so anyone with an MCard can ride the bus.  The U pays the AATA 1.8 million a year for that perk.  Everyone gets an expanded AATA network out of the deal.  


August 16th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^

AA's not talking about 'the university,' though, they're talking about specific expenses related to football games.

Those restaurants probably exist to the same numbers without football, though. The hotels perhaps less so, but there are still the graduation, move in numbers. The AATA deal exists sans football as well. If UMich is UMass in re athletics, how does that change the local commercial environment? Amherst has similar numbers of hotels and restaurants without big time football. If football is causing the city expenses that go largely unreimbursed from associated revenues, it's not outrageous to ask the university to pick up the tab, especially in a moment of government austerity.

Mitch Cumstein

August 16th, 2011 at 9:52 AM ^

Not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I understand local gov'ts are in the hurt locker in terms of finances, but if they're suggesting that the city isn't benfiting from football saturdays financially (even with providing thses services), they're idiots. 


August 16th, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

Politicians are grabbing money for their local or state budgets from wherever they can get it nowadays.  Even if this turns out to be a symbolic gesture, the politicians can brag about how  much money they saved  or tried to save their constituents during their next election campaigns.


August 16th, 2011 at 9:55 AM ^

I didn't realize this wasn't already happening.


EDIT: Ah, it sort of is. This is only about signs and signals.



"We've already worked through agreements with the university for police and fire services on game days. This is specifically for signs and signals," Crawford told council members, noting that's not a service that can be readily provided by another party.



August 16th, 2011 at 9:55 AM ^

For anyone who has been down town Ann Arbor on game day knows that it is very hectic. I always assumed the school was taking care of the local public safety officals anyways. They do a good job considering how cramped it can get there.


August 16th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

Maybe the U should demand that the city pay to have the Stadium street bridge repaired - it's embarrasing to have only half of the bridge in operation, and frankly it's a bit dangerous.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

I'm fine with us paying for the signals, but we get a cut of the tax revenue off the restaraunts and hotels in town in exchange.  Fair is fair.  We pay for what we use, they pay us for the business we refer to them.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

I love it when towns that are almost entirely dependent on a business/employer for prosperity make demands like this. What a joke. Without the University there IS no Ann Arbor. The place was farmland before the school was created. Compare this with the reception that Steve Jobs got at the city counsel meeting in the town where Google is headquartered and you'll get a good laugh at the Ann Arbor city counsel:


August 16th, 2011 at 10:15 AM ^

I've seen a small Michigan SE town that enjoy freedom some massive public University.  It's called Ypsi and do.not.want (at least after the Ford plant closed).

Or if you want to go a little bigger and westward, Jackson.  Piss and moan all you like about the U not paying property taxes, but our economy is based off tens of thousands of undergrads buying stuff and tens of thousands of faculty and staff spending money here.  Plus of course the various business that spawn off the University or come here because of us (JStor, the EPA test center, various auto tech centers, etc).  Also Pzifer until of course AA decided to raise taxes on them and they left.  Now UM owns the buildings and pays no taxes on them and hundreds of highly paid workers have been subtracted from the tax base.   

This is my favorite quote though from the head of the city public server group, back in march:

"The university has made it clear they will not pay," [McCormick] told council members, adding the city has given up on even sending the university a bill at this point.

Of course poor Ann Arbor is broke, unless of course it involves building a giant new city hall and comissioning some German artist to make custom artwork for it.  We have the cash for that but not the freaking bridge over State.

Wolverine In Exile

August 16th, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

A^2 is also buying / mandating the "green belt" to surround the city... I'm sure that's being done for free out of the goodness of people's hearts.


Actually, I'm OK with the University to pay for services rendered during "non-normal" conditions, i.e. Football Saturdays, Graduation, etc. If they wanted U of M to pay an additional fee for stop signs and traffic lights on campus for 365 every year, then I'd have an issue. If I was U of M, I'd agree but request (demand?) an accounting for every dollar spent.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

If the city is going to do this, they had better stop giving out all those $600 trash tickets on gameday for having a couple cups on your lawn 1 hour after the game begins.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:31 AM ^

It is the usual pettiness and shortsightedness that is prevalent in local government.  Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan.  Somehow, they lose sight of that fact.

Most towns would kill to have 110,000 (less students of course) fans coming in for seven or eight weekends looking to eat and drink.  The extra revenue generated in sales tax alone in one day probably pays the expenses for a season.


August 16th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

whenever something more than a garage sale happens in AA that needs one extra police officer to scan the area, the city is going to send the "offending" party a bill for safety services?

As noted in many posts here, AA should get down on their knees and thank the university for causing boat-frikin'-loads of cash to be spent in the area.  There are communities around this state that would do ANYTHING to have the amount of money dropped in their towns as is done in AA -- even just the 7 or 8 days for home games!

If I were Pres. MSC, I'd offer to each counsel person who is in favor of charging U-M for public safety services a free class at Ross School of Business on how to manage a successful enterprise.  They would, however, have to add a segment to the class, "how not to piss off customers" (because any manager in the private sector will already know better).


August 16th, 2011 at 11:53 AM ^

Of course UM is not going to move, but they aren't going to pay either.  Nor should they.  The better question is, what is the city going to do?  Stop stop providing the service?  Would the U even care?  I have been in the line for Section 24 many times, UM clearly does not give 2 shits about a little fan gridlock.


August 16th, 2011 at 11:04 AM ^

"The issue is a persistent point of frustration on the city council, because traffic control for football games is a dollar cost to the city, but the city has limited leverage with the university to extract payment. That’s due in part to the fact that traffic control is seen not as merely a matter of convenience, but rather of public safety."




August 16th, 2011 at 11:35 AM ^

Its true that University has all the leverage, but the speaker fails to point out that the City lacks the leverage because the University does so much for the area (jobs, etc.) that it would be crazy to press the issue.  Its one thing to ask for the University to pay for things that promote public safety (overtime pay for police officers, etc.) but another thing to attempt to levy fines on the University.  Its a fine line and politicians always fail to deal with things like this properly. 

If I were with the University, I would propse that the University create an annual pool of funds to cover all the extra expenses that the City incurs.  If the City fails to budget properly, that's their fault.  This is how it works in certain aspects of commerical finance, for example.  Its called creating a reserve, kind of like a mortgage lenders does when they charge you each month for your property tax escrow.



August 16th, 2011 at 12:11 PM ^

IMO the school should be footing some portion of the cost as well most any large venue usually has to (Palace, DTE) BUT  this is a giant pissing contest and the only government worse than Congress is your local one. 

For them to think that football saturdays brings no economic benefit is just assinine and I"m pretty sure it does not cost $100,00 to reprogram some lights and put some construction signs up.  Honestly I hope the University shoves it in with no lube to the council.   


August 16th, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

I can see both sides of the issue. It would be interesting to know the associated costs with traffic control. While the city certainly benefits indirectly through the increased revenue brought by the crowds, restaurants, hotels, merchandise sales, etc., this is an indirect and not direct benefit. Have tax revenues gone down in Ann Arbor? Assuming so, I'm not surprised that the city council is looking to either cut costs or increase revenue. Could the city and county legitimately shift responsibility for traffic control to campus police and campus security? That would cut city costs, and give the University the opportunity to decide if it was more cost effective to take care of this themselves, or if they should in fact pay for services provided by the city.


August 16th, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

"Could the city and county legitimately shift responsibility for traffic control to campus police and campus security? That would cut city costs, and give the University the opportunity to decide if it was more cost effective to take care of this themselves, or if they should in fact pay for services provided by the city."

Uh oh.  There is only one thing worse than talking about taking a job away from a government employee: Taking a job away from a government employee in a union (even if the private sector could do it better and at a lower cost).


August 16th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

But to get a grasp on our unopposed city government, their other hot ticket item right now is to start ticketing people for idling their cars.  Oh, and making sure traffic stops in the middle of busy streets for pedestrians (not only at lights and stop signs).  Rapists? Who cares about them?

Oh, and the University has responded, and is willing to pay...some.


The double pay is what they're bickering over.