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Posted on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Michigan Stadium's second-ever night game means big boost for Ann Arbor businesses

By Lizzy Alfs


Underground Printing employee Shelby Melton organizes T-shirts while working the counter on Sept. 4. The Ann Arbor-based Michigan retailer is preparing for its busiest weekend of the year with the second-ever night football game.

Melanie Maxwell |

Football Saturdays are typically the biggest sales days of the year for Ann Arbor-based retailer Underground Printing, but Michigan Stadium’s second-ever night game should deliver an unprecedented business boost.

“A game day weekend versus non-games, we’re probably 10 times as busy,” said Underground Printing co-owner Ryan Gregg. “This weekend, for the night game, will probably be multiples of that. It’s not even in the same ball park.”

The Michigan Wolverines will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. It will be the second-ever night football game in Michigan Stadium history, after Michigan hosted its first night game in 2011, also against Notre Dame.

Although the game will only last about four hours, Ann Arbor-area business owners are anticipating a 2.5-day economic boost.

“Fans begin arriving on Friday and it carries over to Sunday,” said Mary Kerr of the Ann Arbor Area Visitors and Convention Bureau.


Michigan Stadium will host its second-ever night game on Sept. 7. file photo

“In addition to spending on the usual hotels and restaurants and travel to get here, there’s also the significant economic impact in and around the stadium as well.”

Kerr said the matchup is expected to generate an economic impact ranging between $10 million and $15 million, leading out-of-town spending compared with the Wolverines’ six other home games this year.

“(For the first night game in 2011), we estimated a $10 million economic impact and that was very conservative,” she said. “This is an entire weekend event.”

Mark Kuykendall, owner operator of Ann Arbor’s Holiday Inn & Suites, said the 107-room hotel on Boardwalk Drive has been sold out for this weekend since April, and most area hotels are also booked.

“We’ve had high demand for this weekend for quite some time — from the first of the year,” he said. “This type of game, an evening game, especially with a top opponent like Notre Dame, creates a lot of interest and brings back a lot of former players and lots of alumni and there seems to be added interest because it’s a night game.”

Kuykendall said not every football weekend is a total sell-out for the hotel, but high-profile games generally mean the hotel is fully booked on both Friday and Saturday.

Ken Weber, president of Weber’s Inn on Jackson Road, said the hotel has been booked for this weekend since 2012. The one downside to a night game, he said, is the restaurant loses the dinner hour crowd.

“The general dinner hour from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. doesn’t happen; you lose the entire dinner hour,” he said.


Good Time Charley's on South University Avenue has outdoor televisions for people to watch sports games. file photo

He added: “As much as Ann Arbor has grown over the years, all the hotels and restaurants and bars certainly look forward to the football season because of the crowds and also everybody is in a good mood.”

For Michigan Stadium's first night football game in 2011, Good Time Charley’s co-owner Adam Lowenstein said the bar on South Univeristy Avenue was packed all day and people stood on the streets to watch the outdoor television screens on the patio.

Conor O'Neills owner Tom Murray said sales were up 40 percent to 50 percent for the first night game, compared to a typical Saturday at the downtown Ann Arbor bar.

“Having the 8 o’clock game was great because it gave people the whole day, so then you’re not only having people coming in just before the game. We were busy from when we opened up until we closed," Murray said.

To prepare for this weekend, Lowenstein said he’s increasing staff and just preparing for an all-day rush at Charley's. He also expects increased sales on Friday and Sunday.

“We expect this to be our busiest weekend of the year,” he said. “As a bar, (a night game) is obviously really helpful because people go out and they’re eating and drinking all day leading up to the game.”

Gregg of Underground Printing, which operates four locations in Ann Arbor, said crowds flock into the retail stores on game days to buy Michigan apparel and souvenirs.

“People come in and they will buy for game day, but there are also a ton of people who are buying just overall souvenirs,” he said. “For a lot of people, this will be their only trip into Ann Arbor for the year.”

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



Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

You cannot take food into the stadium so I would guess most restaurants would be very busy pre-game....bars post-game. The benefits of a night game are not only to bars. Traveling in Michigan means gas, hotels, and food. Not to mention people buying the essentials they forgot to pack or memoribilia like a bright yellow shirt with the block M. MANY people are opting to arrive in town Friday which means they have extra time to visit entertainment venues. With the beautiful weather though, I would recommend visiting Gallup Park over something indoors.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Oh goody...another night game...that translates to a large group of people [who are clueless in regard to the limitations] starting the booze consumption earlier! So I can plan on pre-game puke pile dodging as well as post game...lest I fail to mention the large number of guys willing to whip it out and piss all over's not the homeless doing this on game day's educated [or so they claim] people. And don't forget the intoxicated crowds that will walk down the streets breaking off branches of trees...why? Because they can...And I personally can't wait for the smell of downtown on Sunday morning while I walk the dogs....puke and pee!


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Is parking downtown an issue for "night" games? Might be a good time to visit one of those restaurants that normally is booked for a Saturday night.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

In 2011 at 8:20 p.m. after the game was underway I said this: "The game is underway, and traffic is very light. Most of the downtown parking garages are full or near capacity."


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

I am guessing that entertainment venues like The Ark, Performance Network and Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase LOSE money. Did you contact any of these types of venues?


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

People will come to town to eat lunch and early dinner. The restaurants will benefit all day if not during the actual game. They benefit on Sunday as well.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

I'm guessing that the beneficiaries of night games are primarily bars, not restaurants. Lots of fans will wander down to their favorite watering-hole to watch the game and drink, but relatively few diners will. Those that do will probably have the run of the town,, until the game ends...(!)

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

@bob: Good point about those venues, and no I did not contact those three for this story. In 2011, I covered the first night game at Michigan Stadium from the streets of Ann Arbor. I posted live updates throughout the night and one of them was: "About 30 people are lined up outside The Ark for a folk concert." But things were relatively quiet downtown DURING the actual game. After the game, it was a different story!


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

I think the only businesses that benefit are the sports bar type places. With all the pre-game tailgating people attending U of M games are burning out by the time the game is over.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

In larger cities, "game nights" were a great time to go to in demand restaurants because they were mostly empty during games. A lot of the economic benefit is over-hyped and a lot of it does not stay in the local community.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

I know the owner of a popular downtown restaurant and he says his business will be down due to the game. Don't believe all the hype.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Only second night game? I thought there was a night game last year also, or am I mistaken?


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

Wow, I'm sorry people I made a mistake, lighten up. I will admit I'm not perfect like most people in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

There was not a night game last this is the second one. I don't believe Hoke likes the night games. If I remember his comments from the last one he stated that it is hard to have the players sit around all day waiting to play. He prefers noon games so the players are fresh.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

It's the second night _football_ game _at Michigan Stadium_. Last year's ND game was played in South Bend, and the Big Chill wasn't football.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

That would be the first one... right?!

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Do the owners of this featured business live within the city of Ann Arbor?


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

they hire locals


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Really? This is your concern? Where an owner lives is important to you? Tell me where the owner of the computer manufacturer you typed this on lives? How about the people who live in Ann Arbor and own businesses elsewhere? These businesses pay Ann Arbor taxes, so why shouldn't they get Ann Arbor services?

Great Lakes Lady

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Nicholas: Do you drive a Ford, GM or Chrysler to support Michigan and the US? Do you shop at Meijer, a Michigan company? Etc.....

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

It is important because of the city resources, and demands, that those businesses make on the taxpayers. That includes the DDA, which many would argue primarily serves people who do not even reside in A2. I have read in the past that 70-80% of downtown business owners do not live in A2.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

1. Read the article again. There are five businesses featured. 2. Who cares where the owners live?


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Ah yes, the old alcoholic theory.

Tim Hornton

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

I'm sick of people making college all about sports. College's main purpose is for one thing and one thing only.... PARTYING!