Michigan Mailbag Question: Will Night Games Ever Happen at Michigan Stadium?

ErocWolverineSenior Writer IMarch 20, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 27:  Michael Shaw #20 and Roy Roundtree #16 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate with fans following the game against the Wisconsin Badgers on September 27, 2008 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Eroc and coachBt,

I only just found your blog, but I really love it. I think you have some of the best analysis and closest ties to the program out of all the other blogs—from what I have seen. (I do not get into the "paid sites.")

You may have seen that there is a very spirited debate going on now about night games on your GBMW. The idea really seems to be gaining traction among fans around the blogs. I just think it would be AWESOME and the crowd would be CRAZY!

Could you chime in? Do you like the idea? Do you think Bo or Mo or Lloyd would've liked the idea? Would Coach Rod like the idea? Why isn't it happening? Why not put some permanent lights in with the renovations?

Thanks. I'll just hang up and listen.




Thanks for the question and comments.

Michigan is all about tradition. Tradition is what drives much of what Michigan does. They sell out 100,000-plus seats every Saturday afternoon, so why mess with success? Our guess is that the administration at Michigan is not too worried about it, or motivated to change.

Bill Martin, in our opinion, would rather have an early start for several reasons. They use the excuse of lighting and parking, but they have temporary lights up for the 3:30 pm start games towards the end of the year.

We believe it has more to do with fans tailgating and drinking for eight to 10 hours before kickoff. Martin is more worried that nothing happens to the fans either before or after the game. He has seen what has happened on several occasions at Michigan State, where they report more arrests and problems with night games than during day games.

Martin has stated that as part of the renovation they are putting in everything needed for a night game, such as all the electrical cables, stands, brackets, etc., but they are not putting in lights right now because of the cost factor. He has said that if any donor wants to pay for them solely, then he would do it.

This does not hold a night game back though, because if Michigan wanted to hold a night game, ESPN / ABC / BTN would gladly pay for temporary lighting to be brought in. The television companies have to pay for lighting when they want a night game and there is none.

Now if Musco (lighting company) would, say, put them up for free, then sure Martin would do it—likewise should ESPN / ABC offer a deal where they pay for the lights in return for at least one night game a year for the next 10 years.

Cost? I'm not really sure what the cost for stadium lighting for a football field would be. The basketball arena redid their lights, and the rumor was they cost around $700,000.00, so you have to figure with the size of the football field, you have to be talking somewhere in the $1.5 to $2 million range, but that is just a guess.

Then there's the question, do they just make it good enough for television, or do they make it brighter? We learned when they redid the basketball lights that there are actually different standards for brightness: college venues having one standard, and professional sports having another, brighter, standard.

Would the past coaches have like the idea? Well, frankly, right now it does not matter what they think of the idea. Bo always thought the games should be kicked off at 12:00 pm, and for him a late game was 12:30-1:00 pm start.

Mo and Lloyd rather fell into the same pattern. Under Lloyd it seemed like a lot more 3:30 pm kickoffs, but that had mainly to do with television coverage and not solely by what the school wanted for a start time.

Does Coach Rod like the idea of night games? I am sure he does, because while he was at West Virginia they had many night games along with weekday games (which will never happen at Michigan). I am glad the Big Ten has a rule about playing during the week. I believe Michigan football was meant to be played on Saturday, and they do not have to worry about being on television because they are always on television.

It does not bother me either way, because my brother and I usually leave the same time, early Saturday, for a two-hour drive, no matter what time the game starts. Some game days we just consume a lot more beer and food than others.

Would I like a night game at Michigan Stadium? Sure, but I would not want a lot of them each season. I could see one game a year, preferably one of the non-conference games when it is 90 degrees out so it would be a little more comfortable in the stadium. That place is like a sauna the first couple of games, especially if there is no wind, sun out and hot.

I do like a couple of the 3:30 pm start times towards the end of the year when they bring the lights in because it gets dark in the second half of the football game, but I also like the 12:00-1:00pm games so we can enjoy a short tailgate, go to the game, and then get home before dark.

The keyword for me is moderation. Will we see it soon? With Coach Rod here, it's more likely than it would have been with any of the previous coaches.


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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine


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