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Posted on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan football team's game against Notre Dame delivers big kick for Ann Arbor economy

By Lizzy Alfs


The patio of Good Time Charley's sports two new televisions in preparation for a large turnout for the first-ever night football game against Notre Dame.

Angela J. Cesere |

Hotels are booked, restaurants are increasing staff and the Ann Arbor community is preparing for thousands of visitors who will arrive this weekend for the first night football game in the history of Michigan Stadium.

For the Michigan football team, which plays Notre Dame in a game set to kick off just after 8 p.m., the night marks a chance to get a second straight win — this time with stadium lights shining and flash bulbs popping.

But for Ann Arbor, the game equlas the largest economic boost of the Wolverines' eight home games this year.

The matchup is expected to generate an economic impact of about $10 million, said Mary Kerr of the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I would say that the Notre Dame game will probably lead out-of-town spending compared to the rest of the games,” she said. “In addition to traveling and spending on hotels and restaurants, fans generate significant economic activity in and around the stadium.”

This football game could bring nearly 115,000 people into the Big House, drawing the “largest crowd [its] ever had,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Kerr views the first-ever night game as more of a “weekend event” than a typical football game, with more visitors booking hotels and planning to stay the entire weekend.

“This starts Friday and carries over into Sunday,” she said.

Joe Sefcovic, general manager at the Holiday Inn Ann Arbor, said the Holiday Inn hotel rooms are completely sold out, and most area hotels are also booked.

“This year, both football teams are on the rise and it is the first night game, so I think there’s a lot more excitement,” Sefcovic said. “I definitely think the night game helps.”

To prepare for the influx of people looking to watch the football game, Good Time Charley’s on South University has installed outdoor televisions on its patio.

General manager Paul Drennan estimated that Charley’s sees about 40 to 50 percent more business on a football Saturday, and he thinks the night game will generate even more activity.

“We’re giving people more space to watch the game and we expect it to be crazy busy,” he said. “We just think because it’s historical, there’s going to be a lot of interest and we’ll be busy both Friday and Saturday.”

Vince Badalamenti, manager at The Arena on East Washington Street, said he hopes there will be a crowd watching the game at the downtown bar.

“We’re busy for any football game,” he said. “We aren’t sure what to expect for the night game, but we’re planning for crowds who come into town early and hit up some of the restaurants.”

Although bars and restaurants are hoping to see big crowds, U-M and the city are increasing safety efforts to ensure the historic event is a success.

Brandon said on Tuesday that Michigan will have “more feet on the street” around the stadium to keep an eye out for folks that they deem unfit for entry into the stadium.

U-M also has an “Ambassador Program” for the night game, where volunteers will provide hospitality services, incident reporting and have visibility throughout campus and downtown.

Kerr said the program was accepting applications for up to 350 volunteers, who will wear visible orange shirts in the area on Saturday.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

The only people making money on game days sell beer and have good insurance. As a business owner, events like these do not draw people to retail shopping, my business goes down on game days because the traffic is a complete nightmare.

Blu n Tpa

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

What kind of business do you run? I'm willing to bet eating establishments make money too. You might want to try to rent a room this weekend within 10 miles of AA. Not only are the hotels full, their rates are way up. I know because that's why we aren't coming until next weekend. Everythings cheaper vs EMU.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Can someone help me with this question: This game is repeatedly described as the "first night game" at UM Stadium. But other games have at least concluded under lights, yes? For example, I think that was the end-result of the Halloween game between UM and MSU that went to triple OT, true? Lights were brought in from Musco Lighting in Iowa, true? Is this the first game to BEGIN after dark or dusk or whatever?

Philip Santini

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Yes, many late afternoon games have ended in dark or near-dark conditions with temporary lighting. The starting time of 8pm makes this the first official night game at the stadium (with permanently installed lights).


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

U of M games bring many $$ into Ann Arbor but some businesses actually suffer. How are people going to get downtown to see shows at the Ark, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, Blind Pig? Those business probably rely on weekend receipts and Michigan football games cause traffic problems that locals try to avoid. And people attending U of M games are not going to the movies or seeing a live show afterwards. So not everyone benefits from Michigan football. Hope racerx's suggestion that they raise taxes on restaurants & bars doesn't include bars like Blind Pig & the comedy club & even the Ark as they all have liquor licenses.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

To Bob and Craig: one final thought; do you realize that the stadium was built in the 1920s and we've been having huge crowds ever since? Did this not impact local businesses back then? Why all the fuss?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Thank you Blu n tpa!! Yes, too many people in town, bad for business, yea right-WRONG! Craig, show me the numbers where the Farmer's Market suffers. Have you noticed that we have fewer noon kick offs? Reality, half empty.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

CL Are you serious? "Some" businesses suffer from having TOO MANY PEOPLE in town? You and bob need to talk to the University so they will make the stadium smaller. That way you two and goober can have it both ways. You want the money but you don't want the people crowding you. Wow, what type of forward thinking is that?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

MRunner73, a noon kick off has a negative impact on numerous businesses along Main Street I know for sure. The Farmers Market traffic on noon games is way down during the prime harvest season for farmers. There are numerous other businesses whose customers just don't try to buck game days. You call that looking at a glass half empty, I call it looking at reality.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

We do not live in a perfect world, Bob. You accurately point out a few businesses that will suffer. This is the ONLY night game that will impact some of these eastablishments. Games with a 3:30 pm kick off have minor impact and noon starts have no impact, except could be a bigger draw for some of these said establishments. It is a bummer to know that there are those who will always see the glass half empty.

Censorship sucks

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

It's 8 days of the whole year. People can ride a bike or take the bus. And the noon games are over by 3:30, leaving plenty of time for the traffic to clear up for the most part by evening hours


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Ann Arbor residents can use their bikes. Our city leaders thought of this when they spent many of our hard earned tax dollars installing bike lanes and trying to encourage no cars in or near our downtown ala parking rates to be increased. Heaven forbid that a car is stuck in the football traffic gridlock, as the idling car law will probably be enacted soon - if we follow the track record of our city leaders (ignore public comments and feelings).

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

good point bob about some businesses suffering on game days.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

"The matchup is expected to generate an economic impact of about $10 million," I wouldn't mind seeing an "official" break down of that estimate.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

I'm coming in next week because this weekend was too expensive so this will be less than for the ND game. Rental car $120 Room in AA $450 Meals for 2 $300 (he's 14) Tickets $200 Stuff $100-200 So call it about $1000, minus the rental car but rooms are higher priced and tickets are really higher priced. My son doesn't drink which lowers my costs but not for the average adult fan. I didn't include my air fare $500, or my gas which will be about $20 dollars. Multiple that by 100,000. Divide by 2 since alot will be local driving distance and will go home after the game. Low end dollar amount $5,000,000. Upper middle estimate $10-12 mil. The city's contribution for coaches salaries, stadium upgrades, facilities upkeep, and fancy new uniforms, etc....$0.00. So put the police on the streets and quit whinning. If it wasn't for the University what do you think the chances are we would fly to AA for the weekend? About the same we would fly to Saline or Monroe or ...! TiM Go Blue!


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

They should increase security on the golf course and outlying tail gate areas for this game. The unprovoked verbal and physical attacks I witnessed by Michigan fans against ND fans at the 2009 game were appalling. Made me think I was in Columbus. We are Michigan, if you see behavior like this from fellow Mich fans then call them out, don't stand by and watch like 2 years ago, I will.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

I haven't missed an away game in 13 years. You must be wearing blinders and be hard of hearing as well.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

I do not condone anything other than some good natured ribbing which is all in jest. But, have you ever gone on the road? As a Michigan fan on the road you have a target on your chest and back. Does not matter where you go but of course it is the worst in columbus and east lansing.

3 4 a2

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

The UMHS will generate a guesstimated revenue of $15-20 million over the same weekend and $5-6 million every day of the year. Much of that showers down upon our fortunate city.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

$10M! This should be a serious wake-up call to city leaders and their last minute extortion of funding from the UM for "signs & signal" services. Though this aspect has been resolved with the UM agreeing to support this city service for the ND game, it's just a shame that city leaders can't see from beyond the trees that is called UM. Football generates a lot of business for area businesses. However, the city would rather bicker over providing this service at a cost that is outrages. This reflects poorly on the city if patrons can't get around the city. These same fans will enjoy a great experience at the game that the UM provides, but will forever be reminded how its a hassle to get around town, i.e. long traffic waits. If the funding was such a concern, create a business tax on local bars and restaurants from Sept to Nov instead of raising parking rates. Far fetch? Didn't the Public Service Administrator wanted to tax downtown businesses for street lamps?

Blu n Tpa

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

ZooWolverine I remember there being a deficit but it was covered by the Department's reserve fund. Mr. Goss didn't quite work out as AD but that 's another story. There has been a surplus every year since, even with all the construction and the economic decline. They have pretty good with planning over there.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Blu, According to the Michigan Daily, former AD Tom Goss left in 2001 with a $2.8 million deficit (primarily due to "additional losses discovered in Sept. 1999", though--so it may have been a one-time thing).

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

CL Michigan has been "self funded" for over 30 plus years, all my adult life, Michigan's AD has pay their own way. Not just the football team either. The whole department.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

"Sports at the UM are self-funded, and, football revenue also supports other sports. The state does not assist the U for their collegiate sports." It is important, I think, to note this is the current situation. In the long history of Michigan football and athletics in general they have not been entirely self funded most of the time. To assume this rather recent phenomenon is a permanent status quo would be a dangerous assumption.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

@drewk- The UM questioned the amount that the city was asking for those "signs & signal" services. The city estimated the cost to be $100K, which included a administrative fee, which the university balked at paying. Granted the UM does make about $4.3M at the gate for each home game, but they also have to be good stewards of those funds. Sports at the UM are self-funded, and, football revenue also supports other sports. The state does not assist the U for their collegiate sports. Regardless of how much the university makes, the question is getting good value for that cost.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

But with all of the profits that the U-M makes, why should they not chip in a little bit?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

There are EIGHT home games this year. That should draw about 880,000 fans. It does not include the tailgaiting activities. In addition, we have home games with Nebraska then Ohio State. You can expect a large number of Nebraska fans making the trip east and staying in our hotels and motels for a few nights. Buckeye fans drive up in droves (clogging our roads). All of this means it will be a bumper year for the local economy which will feature no less than three premier home football games. Ann Arbor has to be one of the most experienced cities west of the Big Apple that can handle mega sporting events. I hope the city and univeristy can resolve their home game fee issues because we will need to see the well oiled machine of traffic control we are used to and deserve. Otherwise, it is great to see Ann Arbor getting the economic shot in the arm. Aside from the fact that I hate to see summer wane, the fall months and home football Saturdays in Ann Arbor are very special. I love the excitement. This is the only place to be this time of year. Need to mention that Brady Hoke and the coaching staff with this new attitude means the Wolverines will be fun to watch all season long. GO BLUE!!!


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

As citizens of Ann Arbor, we are very fortunate that we have the UofM in our town. Otherwise, we would be no different than most other cities in Michigan being led by less than stellar city leaders, having no real growing economy to offer residents or job seekers and a populace with a desire to spend hard earned tax money on non-critical services and art. At least the UofM gives us diversity beyond our one party town. Go Blue!

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Hey goober, aren't you the one who told me that I could stay away from A2 because you didn't care one wit about how football helped the economy? Really? And now you are writing this about this weekend's night game. Wow, you are your own "diversity" because you don't know what side you want to be on.