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Toughest Venues: #4 Michigan Stadium

Submitted by on May 23, 200830 Comments
What was once and will be the largest stadium in collegiate football in the 2009 season, 110,000+ fans pack the Big House on fall Saturdays.

Just barely missing the medal podium we have Michigan Stadium at #4.

If you ever wanted to know what 110,000 people sitting on their hands sounds like, make the visit into Michigan Stadium on a fall football Saturday. Known as the quietest crowd of 110,000 people, Michigan Stadium or more commonly known as the Big House is home to the Michigan Wolverines.

On a side note: With it being Memorial Day weekend, we will postpone our top 3 until Tuesday when everyone gets back to work. Don’t fret, we’ll still be posting regularly during the weekend, but for suspense sake, we will have our top 3 starting Tuesday following Memorial Day weekend.

ATTENDANCE: 11

Michigan Stadium (Capacity: 107,501)
Home Games Overall attendance Avg. attendance/ game
2007 8 882,115 110,264
2006 7 770,183 110,026
2005 7 776,405 110,915
2004 6 666,149 111,024
2003 7 776,429 110,918

The Big House isn’t as big and imposing as its name implies, but it sure holds an amazing number of people. 107,501 being the official capacity, Michigan Stadium has averaged well over that per game in each of their last 5 seasons, often bypassing the 110,000 mark. There are no shortage of Wolverine fans to fill the seats at Michigan Stadium. As of the conclusion of the 2007 season, Michigan holds a 208 game streak of over 100,000 in attendance at home.

It is just a shame that with so many people coming together to support Wolverine football, they make less noise than some venues twice as small. Whether you blame the apathy of fans or the oval bowl design, Michigan Stadium is highly underutilized in providing home field advantage for its teams.

TRADITION/HISTORY: 11

Where do you start? #1 all-time in wins, #1 all-time in winning percentage, 11 national titles with the most recent one in 1997, 42 Big Ten championships, most winning seasons at 110, most undefeated seasons at 25, one of only 3 schools to hold a winning record against every Division 1-A conference including Notre Dame, 3 Heisman winners, the list just keeps going.

There is no denying Michigan’s influence on college football. But because of the accolades this program has accumulated over the years, the fans of this major time program has also been accused of being full of themselves with unrealistic expectations. The retirement of Lloyd Carr one of the classiest, consistent coaches in college football serves as a stark reminder to the ‘what have you done for me lately’ beast that college football has become.

FANS: 5

It was the 2007 Penn State-Michigan game and we decided to make the trip to Ann Arbor for the first time seeing as we were ranked #10 and Michigan had already been crushed by App State, and Oregon. Entering this game, their only win was against a winless Notre Dame that Penn State had trounced earlier in the season. There was never a better time for the Lions to end their futility against the Wolverines.

The fans started off the day great. We had no idea there was a no open bottle rule in Ann Arbor until a Michigan fan walked up to us from his tailgate to inform us and even brought along a bunch of those infamous red cups for us to use. These Wolverine fans were some of the best fans we have tailgated with prior to any game in the Big Ten. 4 straight hours of flip cup, beer pong, and friendly jostling of stats between the Lions and Wolverines went on before the game.

Once we made our way into Michigan Stadium however, our experience plummeted like George Bush’s approval rating. We didn’t manage to get student tickets for the game, but like thousands of others who made the trip from Pennsylvania, we scored passes from season ticket holders on eBay. Once we were inside, we realized there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and the stadium was literally a gigantic hole in the ground with a field in the center.

Despite the blandness of the stadium, we were simply awed to bask in the tradition and aura of Michigan Stadium. The Go Blue banner, the Victors fight song, and the winged helmets. There are few teams that would make Lions stare in awe, and Michigan is one of them.

But then came the fans. And boy were they in a class of their own. Ranked #10, Penn State fans had a definite presence in Michigan Stadium, from our seats we could see and recognize Lion fans everywhere we looked. Right from kickoff we were on our feet rooting, clapping and most importantly making noise when the Lions were on defense. Unfortunately, Wolverine fans did not understand the concept and took an immediate dislike to any noise above a whisper. Even when we stood up to clap after a good play, stares and gawks were abundant. A fan sitting two rows in front of us actually threw an empty water bottle at us when we were on our feet for a third down play. But hey, we were the visiting fans so we expected it.

If you closed your eyes and listened when Michigan was on defense, you would be shocked if someone said there were 110,000 people around you. No one got off their rear ends to make noise, cheers were few and far between and the student section sounded so distant even when we were right across from them. I now know why Michigan Stadium is commonly referred to as the quietest 110,000 people in the world.

And literally at one point, a cop came by to escort us into the concourse so he could inform us that we were making the Wolverine fans unhappy with the cheering. Only when we agreed to tone it down, were we allowed back into our seats. Regardless to say, we didn’t cheer once or stand again for the remaining 3 quarters.

My question is, if Wolverine fans are so intent on watching the game in peace, why even bother with the trip to Ann Arbor. With HD television, the aging Michigan fans could probably see better on TV anyways.

Prior to our trip to Michigan, we had commonly heard stories of uppity Michigan fans, but not once did we expect anything close to what we experienced at Michigan. When we eventually lost, and waited in the concourse to leave the stadium, we actually experienced heckling from a woman in her 30s. Wow. Guess you get really bitter once you lose to a Division I-AA school to start the season and then get trounced by Oregon.

Michigan\'s adaptation of Penn State\'s famed White Out, the Michigan student section attempts to Maize Out their opponent.
From the stadium exits to our car, Michigan fans actually lined the paths in the tailgate lots and jeered the Lion fans walking back to their cars. Needless to say, our original plans to remain in Ann Arbor for the rest of the weekend was cut short real quick as everyone simply wanted to head on home. As visiting fans I expected to be heckled. Thats why I wanted to make the trip in the first place, but there just wasn’t a need to remain in Ann Arbor if we didn’t have to.

I’ll definitely be back to Michigan Stadium though. We were just surprised that the Wolverine fans at the tailgates thoroughly outclassed those in the stadium no matter how high a pedestal the older Wolverine alumni would like to perch themselves on.

VENUE: 6

What a waste of a stadium and fans. When we were driving in Ann Arbor looking for parking around the stadium, we barely recognized the stadium until someone pointed out the giant scoreboard with the block M painted on the back. Even then no one believed that it was Michigan Stadium. We were used to massive, imposing structures like Beaver Stadium or Ohio Stadium.

This is seriously the only thing you see when you drive near the stadium. If we didn\'t know the sign was part of the stadium, we couldn\'t tell where the stadium was.
We could not believe that you could fill 110,000 people into a place where a scoreboard marker is the only part visible on street level.

We weren\'t kidding when we described Michigan Stadium as a massive hole in the ground.
It wasn’t until we made it into the stadium when we realized that Michigan Stadium is literally a giant hole in the ground. Without the elevated structure like the Rose Bowl, Michigan Stadium was carved right out of the ground. This not only allows fan noise (if there even is any) to dissipate into the air, but just wasn’t imposing or intimidating. Once inside, we doubted the ability of the stadium to hold as many people as Michigan claims.

“It’s not a super-overwhelming place,” he said. “Yes, it’s large, and they’re supposed to have more people than us, but it’s not overwhelming in the sense that it’s not as tense as Beaver Stadium. Their fans aren’t near as rowdy as our fans.” – Penn State wide out, Deon Butler

Then there’s the lack of stadium lights. Citing tradition and the location of Michigan Stadium amongst residential areas, Michigan officials are adamantly opposed to installing permanent lights preventing the Wolverines from ever playing night games at home. There is simply no comparison between day and night games. Night games automatically generate proportionally more excitement and crowd hostility that can never be matched by tradition, even Michigan’s. Too bad Wolverine fans will never get to experience it at home as long as they continue to resist change and cling onto their outdated traditions.

What do you get when you amplify silence? How is Michigan Stadium suddenly going to get loud if the fans don\'t bother making noise?
But there is hope. Michigan Stadium is actually undergoing renovations which will add sky boxes (tradition can always be trumped with the lure of money), and scientists claim this will help amplify the often muted Michigan Stadium into a louder crowd. During the 2007 Minnesota game, the crowd noise, almost exclusively from the student section reached 100 decibels which is equivalent to that in a subway station. But compare that to the 123 decibels recorded at Beaver Stadium, equivalent to a pneumatic jackhammer or less than the noise a plane makes on a runway, 100 is just not that impressive.

With sky boxes however, Michigan scientists believe sound will be amplified by further enclosing the stadium, causing sound to bounce back onto the field instead of escaping. This theory is logically sound, but what most people fail to realize is that Michigan fans simply don’t bother making sound on defense unless you are in the student section. They just can’t be bothered, and I’ve seem first hand how they react to loud noise in Michigan Stadium.

WIN/LOSS RECORD: 9

Home Away
W L W vs ranked L vs ranked W L W vs ranked L vs ranked
2007 5 3 #10 Penn St #7 Ohio St 3 1 - -
2006 7 0 - - 4 1 #2 Notre Dame #1 Ohio St
2005 4 3 #8 Penn St #20 Notre Dame
#9 Ohio St
3 1 #11 Michigan St
#21 Northwestern
-
2004 6 0 #24 Iowa
#13 Minnesota
- 3 2 #12 Purdue -
2003 7 0 #13 Purdue
#6 Ohio St
- 4 1 #12 Iowa
#20 Minnesota
-
overall 29 6 6 3 17 6 6 1

An 83% winning percentage at home in the last 5 seasons is impressive. Apparently not impressive enough to ensure Lloyd Carr’s job for 2008 at Michigan. Their impressive win/loss record is mostly due to the impressive Wolverine squads that have played in Michigan Stadium. There is barely any sort of home field advantage at Michigan Stadium other than the Victors being played like a broken record, or the zombie-like moan of ‘Go’ ‘Blue’ that Wolverine fans utter almost out of obligation.

But hey, Penn State still hasn’t beaten the Wolverines in what seems like a hundred tries so something must be working. It sure isn’t their home support though. Visiting fans usually make just as much noise as Wolverine fans at Michigan Stadium. And with just under 110,000 of them on hand, that is quite sad.

TOTAL: 42 OUT OF POSSIBLE 55

Have you attended a game at Michigan Stadium? Let us know how your experience went. Your memories of the venue might differ greatly from our perspective and we would like to know.

Our top 3 will be revealed beginning Tuesday May 27th following Memorial Day weekend. We hope you have enjoyed the list so far, and really hope to hear back from you. The comments in this series have been great so far. Not only do they help provide contrasting experiences, but it is a learning experience for us as well. We will compile them into a final post at the conclusion of this series. Keep commenting and happy Memorial Weekend!

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  • Anonymous

    As a Michigan grad I couldn’t help but agree. The culture at Michigan games is slowly changing, but only as the old fans die off. The blue bloods that sit between the 20′s underneath the press box are some of the most depressing college football fans on earth. They view their tickets as a status symbol, not a privilege. Once the grey-hairs start dying off it should get better, but no amount of angled glass from boxed seats is going to make Michigan Stadium any louder.

    As one positive, you can’t beat tailgating in Ann Arbor.

  • Anonymous

    As a Michigan grad I couldn’t help but agree. The culture at Michigan games is slowly changing, but only as the old fans die off. The blue bloods that sit between the 20′s underneath the press box are some of the most depressing college football fans on earth. They view their tickets as a status symbol, not a privilege. Once the grey-hairs start dying off it should get better, but no amount of angled glass from boxed seats is going to make Michigan Stadium any louder.

    As one positive, you can’t beat tailgating in Ann Arbor.

  • speedomike02

    Uh, yes you can. Clearly you haven’t tailgated at Penn State.

    To be fair, Beaver Stadium was the same until the past few years. When I was a student (98-02), I used to get so frustrated when the D would be on the opposite end of the field and the West/North stands weren’t getting loud.

    This countdown is outstanding, but I can’t help but notice you spent a lot more time talking about how much their fans and venue suck than you did about their history and win/loss record. Can’t really help the image of PSU fans being bitter about the losing streak.

  • speedomike02

    Uh, yes you can. Clearly you haven’t tailgated at Penn State.

    To be fair, Beaver Stadium was the same until the past few years. When I was a student (98-02), I used to get so frustrated when the D would be on the opposite end of the field and the West/North stands weren’t getting loud.

    This countdown is outstanding, but I can’t help but notice you spent a lot more time talking about how much their fans and venue suck than you did about their history and win/loss record. Can’t really help the image of PSU fans being bitter about the losing streak.

  • psu86

    damn it we can be bitter until ends!

  • psu86

    damn it we can be bitter until ends!

  • http://quebecpenspinning.com/ Charlie

    Or until Michigan Stadium actually becomes an enjoyable football venue.

  • admin

    Or until Michigan Stadium actually becomes an enjoyable football venue.

  • Anonymous

    I attended the 1994 game at Michigan Stadium, and agree on the sound. It would get loud for 10-20 seconds during and after a big offensive play for UM,(Ty Wheatly had a couple of long runs),but nothing the rest of the time. It was quiet even compared to Beaver Stadium back then.

    I was a member of the Blue Band at the time and didn’t interact with the fans like you would as a ticket holding fan, but all of the people we met before and after the game were very nice. A HS friend who went to UM said he was surprised we were treated so well… Of course we won that one.

  • Anonymous

    I attended the 1994 game at Michigan Stadium, and agree on the sound. It would get loud for 10-20 seconds during and after a big offensive play for UM,(Ty Wheatly had a couple of long runs),but nothing the rest of the time. It was quiet even compared to Beaver Stadium back then.

    I was a member of the Blue Band at the time and didn’t interact with the fans like you would as a ticket holding fan, but all of the people we met before and after the game were very nice. A HS friend who went to UM said he was surprised we were treated so well… Of course we won that one.

  • http://www.myspace.com/seekfirstthekingdomofgod GoBucks89

    I’m an OSU fan, and I went to the OSU-UM game at Michigan Stadium back in 1989. Your description sounds exactly like my experience. All of the OSU fans were placed in the one end zone, and according to our tradition we stood the entire game. You can imagine how that burned the UM faithful who couldn’t see the game because they were sitting on their hands. I got hot dog wrappers and beer cans thrown at me, but I still stood the whole game. Fortunately, we didn’t get the security treatment like you did. I honestly don’t know how you kept your cool as that guy was telling you not to cheer. What do those people come to the game for if not to cheer?

  • http://www.myspace.com/seekfirstthekingdomofgod GoBucks89

    I’m an OSU fan, and I went to the OSU-UM game at Michigan Stadium back in 1989. Your description sounds exactly like my experience. All of the OSU fans were placed in the one end zone, and according to our tradition we stood the entire game. You can imagine how that burned the UM faithful who couldn’t see the game because they were sitting on their hands. I got hot dog wrappers and beer cans thrown at me, but I still stood the whole game. Fortunately, we didn’t get the security treatment like you did. I honestly don’t know how you kept your cool as that guy was telling you not to cheer. What do those people come to the game for if not to cheer?

  • esipp

    As a Michigan student, I agree with most of your claims but I have to clarify our 100 dB reading. This was taken at halftime of a Minnesota game with 3 guys in dark jackets waving their arms and jumping up and down at midfield around this wire globe looking device with microphones on it. There was no announcement of who they were or what they were doing, so pretty much only the students started making noise.

    That said, I doubt that Michigan Stadium could reach 110 or 115 dB even if everyone was cheering.

  • esipp

    As a Michigan student, I agree with most of your claims but I have to clarify our 100 dB reading. This was taken at halftime of a Minnesota game with 3 guys in dark jackets waving their arms and jumping up and down at midfield around this wire globe looking device with microphones on it. There was no announcement of who they were or what they were doing, so pretty much only the students started making noise.

    That said, I doubt that Michigan Stadium could reach 110 or 115 dB even if everyone was cheering.

  • bob summers

    GoBucks89, you did not get beer cans thrown at you. You are an idiot.

    I do agree that Michigan fans are not the greatest. We still can’t even get the students to all wear one color. That is mostly because a lot of the frat guys dont want to change out of their pure North Face apparel.

  • bob summers

    GoBucks89, you did not get beer cans thrown at you. You are an idiot.

    I do agree that Michigan fans are not the greatest. We still can’t even get the students to all wear one color. That is mostly because a lot of the frat guys dont want to change out of their pure North Face apparel.

  • Frankie Q

    I have been going to Michigan games before I was a student here, and I have always been disappointed by the crowd. Before I sat in the student section, I was sitting with the “older” class of Michigan fans who did not think it necessary to cheer throughout the game, even if it was against Miami (OH) or Houston. I know the stadium on the outside isn’t awe inspiring for holding 107,501+ people, but once you step inside that stadium, it is a sight to see; no doubt. Sorry you had a bad experience with fans/cops at that game, as it was a classic nonetheless. Yet despite how loud it isn’t, or how uninspiring the outside is, it is still Michigan stadium and has been a hallmark of college football since 1927.

  • Frankie Q

    I have been going to Michigan games before I was a student here, and I have always been disappointed by the crowd. Before I sat in the student section, I was sitting with the “older” class of Michigan fans who did not think it necessary to cheer throughout the game, even if it was against Miami (OH) or Houston. I know the stadium on the outside isn’t awe inspiring for holding 107,501+ people, but once you step inside that stadium, it is a sight to see; no doubt. Sorry you had a bad experience with fans/cops at that game, as it was a classic nonetheless. Yet despite how loud it isn’t, or how uninspiring the outside is, it is still Michigan stadium and has been a hallmark of college football since 1927.

  • carrt

    I don't know how I stumbled on this old article, but it may be the stupidest thing I have ever read.

    I go to at least 2 Michigan games a year, and your on your feet at least half the game. Don't go writing an article and lying about your experience because a team that lost to Oregon and Appalachian State, and had a true freshman starting his first game, beat you.

    Michigan Stadium is loud, not the loudest, but for being so open it gets loud. But that will all change starting in 2010 when the reconstruction finishes.

  • carrt

    I don't know how I stumbled on this old article, but it may be the stupidest thing I have ever read.

    I go to at least 2 Michigan games a year, and your on your feet at least half the game. Don't go writing an article and lying about your experience because a team that lost to Oregon and Appalachian State, and had a true freshman starting his first game, beat you.

    Michigan Stadium is loud, not the loudest, but for being so open it gets loud. But that will all change starting in 2010 when the reconstruction finishes.

  • http://quebecpenspinning.com/ Charlie

    Nobody around the Big Ten other than Michigan fans will claim the stadium is remotely loud. Want loud? Try Camp Randall, Horseshoe or even Kinnick. And as for my experience, it happened and plenty of people were with me to back it up. You don't have to believe it, but my Michigan 07 experience was far inferior to my Horseshoe experience in 08 and it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Hey, what can I say, that was my particular experience.

  • Jared

    ok umm we didnt get “crushed by app state” yes we were beaten but u make it sound like it was 52-7 or something….yes michigan stadium does need to get louder, but with the new construction on the big house….it will be louder….2 press boxes on each side inclined in to make it louder

  • psudevon

    Damn right, you only barely lost to a 1-AA team. Just barely lost. I mean you could've won, who knows?

  • Stevejones

    and psu lost to that team that lost to appy state, so do you have ground to make that statement?

    app state > michigan, michigan > penn state, app state > penn state

    thats the way it works, right?

  • Collins1188

    Here’s the deal morons. Do Michigan grads think they are better than grads of other Big Ten schools? Yes. Is it justified? If you count the academic rankings of virtually every legitimate source, YES IT IS! So don’t get butt hurt when a Michigan student assumes he is somehow better academically when by EVERY standard he is statistically proven to LIKELY be better.

    Next, Michigan Stadium was quiet by design. The key word here is WAS! Do we have a lot of people who choose not to cheer out of a superiority complex? Yes. Despite that fact, do we still have more people loudly cheering than just about any football stadium, the answer again is YES! Remember it is just one small section that is this way, and the majority does cheer often and loudly. Also, the quiet section is conveniently RIGHT NEXT to the student section (the loudest section by far).

    The renovations have statistically been proven to increase volumes by 33%. That is PROVEN through empirical observation and testing. So that 100 decibels would now be 133 decibels. Now consider that when that study was conducted, it was during half-time when nobody was paying any attention, as another commenter alluded to. The fact remains that this stadium is one of the loudest stadiums in the country, if not the loudest. T.J. Floyd (corner back) said in an interview (2010 season) that he couldn’t even hear a teammate one foot away from him when he was yelling due to the volume during the UConn game. If this doesn’t prove, without an inkling of doubt, that this stadium WAS quiet by design, and thus is no longer, you are an irrational, biased, anti-wolverines, hater and your opinion should be tossed out with the trash as being equally valueless.

    Hail!

  • http://quebecpenspinning.com/ Charlie

    Wow. Just wow. Don’t forget to put away those keys after you’re done jiggling it, you wouldn’t want to lose them to your insubordinate rivals.

  • Anonymous

    Did you ever consider that someone threw a water bottle at you because you were an opposing fan, not because they wanted you to stop making noise?

  • Anonymous

    Did you ever consider that someone threw a water bottle at you because you were an opposing fan, not because they wanted you to stop making noise?

  • Anonymous

    Did you ever consider that someone threw a water bottle at you because you were an opposing fan, not because they wanted you to stop making noise?

  • anonymous

    That makes it better! LOL.