Michigan Stadium's second-ever night game means big boost for Ann Arbor businesses
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
“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.
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“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.
AnnArbor.com 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.”