Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hot Topics: Should Michigan Have A Yearly Night Game?

Each week we have two of our writers break down a "hot topic" among the Michigan fanbase and express their personal opinion .  Topics cover everything from rivalry games to apparel.  Writers have their own opinion and if you agree or disagree you are welcome to comment below or contact them via Twitter.

Representing Those Against Michigan Hosting A Yearly Night Game

1) It should be a rivalry game only phenomenon.  The atmosphere was electric because it was a rivalry game between two old and storied rivals.  Would a non-Big Ten opponent that we don’t have a history
with really be worth the night game atmosphere and anticipation?  I know everyone wants to tailgate all day for a crazier game but I just don’t think a MAC team or some unfamiliar foe is worth the pageantry of a night game at the Big House.

2) It does come with a heavy price tag for the University with respect to health and public safety  oncerns.  The Big House is one of the only football stadiums in the country situated in a heavily
residential area and the ALL DAY inconvenience to the local Ann Arborites (who are not all football fans) in addition to the added police and safety personnel cost is just not going to be worth it some
years.  I can speak to this because I live a block from the Big House and I know how big a burden a night game can be.

3) Michigan has never had night games before.  The tradition at the Big House is to have a 12, 1 pm, or 3:30 kick and it has been that way forever.  You don’t just go about changing things up for the sake of the fact that “everyone else is doing it.”  Yeah, they have yearly night games at Michigan State and Wisconsin because that’s how those schools get their exposure.  Michigan doesn’t need to have night games unless it’s a top 25, College Gameday worthy matchup and that just isn’t going to happen every year so I don’t think it should be expected by the fans and I certainly don’t think it should be scheduled years in advance.  If it happens, it will happen and be special.  Don’t make it regular practice of the word “special” won’t be something that will apply anymore.


Thomas Beindit - Representing Those For Michigan Hosting A Yearly Night Game

1) First off, I think we all remember the night game from last season.  If you were fortunate enough to attend the game, or were just in town, then you know how exciting the game was for fans.  Not only is it something different for fans and players to get excited about, but there is also more time to build the suspense.  While the majority of Michigan's home season games start at noon, this would likely give fans and players over 8 hours to tailgate and discuss the excitement of the game (along with allowing the college students time to wake up).  Fans often seem fired up for traditional games, but ask any fanbase around the country.  Even if the opponent is a little weaker, which is not something I'm supporting, the excitement increases at night.  It's a primetime match-up.  That's a lot more exciting than being just another noon game among the many every Saturday.

2) Along with excitement, a night game virtually guarantees increased coverage for the program, team, and campus.  Since less night games happen on a weekly basis than traditional day games, the odds of landing a premier spot on a major challenge during primetime increase significantly.  Sure, Michigan gets great coverage now, but night games almost always get more coverage than a day game.  I can't remember how many times last season I'd be watching a football game and see ads for the night game on later.  Along with that, fans and media personnel will likely stay in Ann Arbor longer, since many simply drive up on gameday and leave afterward.  With 8 extra hours, there's going to be a lot of people that stay around, spend money, and check out the campus, which can be invaluable over time.

3) Finally, there's the purely economic perspective.  Selling tickets isn't too difficult for Michigan, but it's always something to be kept in mind.  Dave Brandon commented and said last year's night game was probably the most coveted ticket in Michigan Stadium history.  Think about that.  Not only did the demand come near the games with Notre Dame, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio, but it even topped those.  There have been some pretty huge games in the past, but this literally was the biggest (set NCAA attendance record).  Remember, we're talking about a game between two unranked opponents.  How does a game between two unranked teams get that much ticket demand?  Play it at night, plain and simple.


Final Points

Those Against A Night Game - The only thing that I think is key to reinforce here, in response to Toms points, is that this is Michigan (fergodsakes)! The ticket was coveted but I think tickets are coveted for all Michigan games and I wonder how a night game against Air Force would really sell relative to a regular ND or MSU night game. It seems like the rivalry and the night game were the keys to the hype, the atmosphere, and it being so special. I'd hope that we can keep a night game reserved for a
primetime ABC worthy matchup, not just something that would be on TV because its at night. Michigan gets all the publicity in the world and when its a night game (and the RIGHT night game) it goes next-level amazing as only a rare, truly Michigan experience can. Keep it special... do it when its needed, not just because the calendar dictates.

Thomas - He brings up many valid points, but there are a few problems in his argument.  First, assuming the rivalry aspect is what made the night game great is invalid.  The rivalry aspect certainly helped coverage, but it didn't make the Under the Lights what it became.  Playing at night is what increased the demand.  More people watched Under the Lights than the Michigan - Ohio game.  If the attendance and excitement was all about the rivalry aspect, fans should have flocked to the Ohio game instead.  Second, I think that cost is far outweighed by the positives.  I can recall walking into several restaurants that were so packed I could hardly find a seat.  I don't think these groups would be opposed to a longer tailgate.  Along with this, there didn't seem to be any significant increase in arrests as a result of the longer tailgate.  Sure, it costs a bit more for security, but the gains are completely worth it.  Finally, I realize the noon games are tradition at Michigan, but what makes a tradition?  You have to take part in the tradition.  Noon games weren't tradition before we played them and they're still going to exist (Big Ten bans November night games).  Night games could easily become a Michigan tradition if we allow them.

Photo Credit: Thomas Beindit


  1. I agree with Mr. Morrison that a night game should be reserved for a special opponent. That said, Michigan might ensure it has such an opponent if it scheduled a more rigorous nonconference slate on a year-to-year basis.

  2. What about the fan base? More over, the season ticket holders who saw their ticket prices increase to pay for renovations, lights etc. These premium games that now are eighty five dollars a piece. While worthy of the cost increase, justifying that increase because of facility improvements should mean just that. An improved experience for the fan. That is after all why we all go to a game, to share those emotions with the ones around us. Do not rob the fans of their right to a night game when the cost is adjusted to justify their installation. The fans make everything possible, the income the athletic department receives is only because of the fan base as it relates to t.v. ratings, merchandising, ticket prices etc so put them first and give them what they want. You can't dangle a carrot of an improved and more exciting game day and not follow through.