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Posted on Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Now hiring: In-stand vending returns to Michigan Stadium for 2010 football season

By Janet Miller


Matt Young, owner of Event Management Solutions, speaks to a group of people who showed up for the Open House Thursday at the U-M football stadium. Young expects to hire close to 200 vendors, who will sell bottled water, soda pop, Crackers Jacks and other snacks.

Janet Miller | For

An old tradition is returning this season to the newly expanded and renovated Big House: Vendors in the stands.

For the first time in at least two decades, vendors selling beverages and snacks will walk the stands of Michigan Stadium.

Job fairs began last week to fill about 200 positions needed for the seven home University of Michigan football games, said Matt Young, owner of South Carolina-based Event Management Solutions.

Anyone who submits an application can have a chance at vending, Young said: "We’re constantly hiring.”

Thinking about vending?

A good hawker can make $200 a game, said Matt Young, owner of EMS, the subcontractor that will run the in-seat vending operation at the Big House. But the work isn’t easy. The secrets to good vending, according to EMS:

  • Carry as much product as possible. This can mean 20 pounds or more.

  • Make your way to the bottom of a section aisle.

  • Advertise the product by calling out and visually holding the product up in the air.

  • Scan the crowd and make eye contact.

  • Try the make the sale at the bottom of the row so fans can see you selling.

  • Go to customers who don’t come to you. This may mean hustling up 70 or more stairs and hustling back down.
  • The fine print:

  • Vendors make their commission in cash. They purchase a bottle of water or soda pop, for example, for $3.60 and sell it for $4. The difference - plus tips - is their earnings. They get credit for products not sold.

  • Vendors are given a shirt with the prices printed on it, and must hand it back in at the end of the day. They can buy the shirt for $6The job isn't for the weak: Hawking snacks at the Big House requires repeated trips up and down 72 steps while lugging about 20 pounds of merchandise. Football fans - 108,000 will fit in the newly renovated stadium this year - either cheering a play or doing "the wave" adds more variables to a vendor's typical workday. Add rain (or snow), and the hopes for a decent tip might turn into an expectation.

“Folks weed themselves out. After the first game, maybe 40 vendors will decide that it’s not the right job for them," Young said. "If they do the job well, they continue to come."

The in-seat vending for home games was resurrected as a result of the $226 million renovation, which will alleviate at least some of the crowding, said Bruce Madej, associate athletic director for communications.

“We’re back to the point where we will be taking concessions out to the stadium. Years ago, we used to do it, but the crowds got so big it became impossible. 

"Before, when you’d walk in the stadium, you felt like fish spawning in a stream,” he said. “Now, there is more room between the aisles.” 

In-seat vending will offer a better experience for fans, Madej said, who won’t have to spend time standing in line in the concourse and missing the action. “Now it will be a better experience for the fan base, not just for those in the suites.”

But the move comes as a change in rules this year will prohibit fans from bringing their own bottled water, even in unopened containers, into the stadium. The university has said free water will be available inside the stadium and more water fountains have been added.

Event Management Solutions is subcontracting the in-seat vending operation for Sodexo food service, the new U-M athletic campus concessionaire. Sodexo replaces V Gladieux after winning a 10-year contract with the athletic department for football and other athletic events, Madej said. Information on projected revenue under the contract was not immediately available, he added.

EMS handles in-seat vending for universities such as Ohio State University and the University of Texas, the NFL, minor league baseball and NASCAR events.

At the Big House, EMS vendors will sell bottled soda pop and water ($4), hot cocoa in commemorative mugs ($8), Cracker Jacks ($4) and other snacks such as packaged cotton candy. They will not sell beer or hot dogs.

Vendors earn 10 percent of the retail price along with tips and have the potential for earning $200 a game, Young said.

In just the first hour of a vendor open house held Thursday at the stadium, Young said he had received 80 applications.

Vendors, who arrive five hours before game time, can show up on game day, fill out the paperwork and beginning working the stands, he said. They wear shirts with the prices of the products on them.

Venders span all ages and experiences, Young said. One of the first in line at the open house was an older man who had worked as a hawker at the Michigan stadium when he was a boy, Young said.

“He was really excited to get back to it.”

At the open house, vendors were taken in small groups into the stadium and given instruction.

Anthony Fleming of Ann Arbor attended the open house. He has been out of work since January and was hoping to pick up some extra cash as a vendor. He’s looked for employment in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and in western Washtenaw County.

“I haven’t found a thing, not even a call back,” he said. “At this point, I’ll do anything. This will help me out for right now.”

Vending will allow him some income along with the chance to meet people from all over the country, he said.

Kelsey Gensler of Monroe has a day job and likes the idea of picking up some extra money. But she also likes the idea of being around the action.

“I love Michigan football,” she said. “Instead of paying to see it, I’ll be able to make money while seeing it and be part of the tradition.”

Janet Miller is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer. To reach Matt Young of EMU, email



Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 7:04 a.m.

Lands, were you able to juggle the goodies and watch any of the games?


Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 7 a.m.

81Wolverine, for you I hope they have your own personal vendor that will have a menu for you with items such as steak and baked potato, your choice of beverage. Can I get you anything else Sir?


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:15 p.m.

@81wolverine: re: food choices - then this might be your year! It seems the food options as well as the number of point-of-sale of quadrupled! We'll see on opening day!


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 7:13 p.m.

The sad thing is that good old Gus won't be there. In his prime Gus was a great salesman. There wasn't a fan at Michigan Stadium that didn't consider him their friend. This Saturday Gus will be missed!


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

@marcus, you aren't allowed to bring in an empty bottle or container to fill up.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

RE: No bottled water can be brought in. I grew up going to Oregon Football games @ Autzen stadium and a few years ago (2006ish?) fans could no longer bring bottled water (opened or unopened) into the stadium. However you are allowed to bring in an empty water container, such as a Nalgene Bottle, etc., with you and fill it up once insdie. Really isn't too much of a hassel, especially if you're with a group: Buy one of your buddies a hot dog or beer if s/he goes and fills up all of the bottles. Go Blue (& Go Ducks).

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

You mean you don't like re-cycled hot dogs?


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

In seat vending may help a little reduce the massive congestion heading to the exits just prior to halftime. Maybe I'm in the minority, but when are they going to start offering some better quality foods at these vending stands around the stadium instead of the garbage they've had for years? I think many people will buy something other than potato chips, popcorn, pop, candy bars, cotton candy, cracker jacks, and hot dogs if it were offered. At least the Stadium has some other choices around the perimeter. Crisler is ridiculously bad. There's a lot of Michigan fans who would buy (for example) turkey or veggie wraps, yogurt, juices, nutrition bars, smoothie shakes, and tea. Now that we've spent a ton of money on fixing up the stadium, let's upgrade the food too.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

Sign Me up, if people are going to tip a dollar per bottle, I could save enugh money to pay for the trip to the rosebowl this year.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

Yay! More work for tater!

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

As if the aisles aren't crowded enough! How silly. Down In Front!!!!!


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

Great times! I used to sell Hot Dogs, Cokes, Popcorn as a kid at the Big House. We rode our bikes there as a group of friends from our neighborhood, but I think we also needed work permits. It was a lot of work and the return was smaller than mentioned here (of course so were the prices). One thing I remember fondly was selling hot dogs on a cold November day, carrying an aluminum box heated by sterno w hot dogs was like having a personal warming station hanging around your neck (ahhh, heat). I think this is a great idea to serve in the stands again, who knows maybe I will come out to sell some goodies. Go Blue!


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8 a.m.

If you are on the waiting list for season tickets...this maybe a good alternative.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

Real good stuff here, I'm glad their bringing back the vendors no complaining from me. I never heard such complaining in the old days and yes that's to much for bottled water. Back in the 60's and 70's bottled water wasn't a fad and yes I do understand that some folks like me that have to take medication get dehydrated. I stay home and watch the games, that's USC and Mich. becuase ticket prices are to high on my budget so when you complainers are crying about the bottled water try to remember that most of America that would love to have Your seat can't afford the price of a ticket in the first place.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

"Will there be a surcharge on the water sold in the seats?" that would be the "keep the change" when you hand him a 5 spot for a 4 dollar bottle of water.

Jimmy Olsen

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

"At the Big House, EMS vendors will sell bottled soda pop and water ($4)" I think the $4 already includes a surcharge - about $3.80 worth.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 6:27 a.m.

"But the move comes as a change in rules this year will prohibit fans from bringing their own bottled water, even in unopened containers, into the stadium." "In just the first hour of a vendor open house held Thursday at the stadium, Young said he had received 80 applications." "Vendors.... can show up on game day, fill out the paperwork and beginning working the stands,...." This sure reads like it was a last minute idea with the opener a week away. I wonder if it had anything to do with the response to the bottled water fiasco that received a bit of negative response from folks in here, including me.