You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Top 5: Signs that University of Michigan football season is back in Ann Arbor

By Kellie Woodhouse


Melanie Maxwell I

Michigan Wolverines: Read's team coverage.

It's nearly fall in Ann Arbor, and that means football Saturdays are upon us.

Residents can look forward to hordes of students traveling down Packard and Main streets in yellow shirts, leaving red Solo cups in their wake, and the transformation of Pioneer High School's lawn into a "game day-palooza. "

Saturday games may tie up traffic as more than 110,000 fans spill into Michigan Stadium, but according to University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon they'll bring $14 million in revenue to Ann Arbor in the form of hotel stays, restaurant meals, bar tabs and apparel purchases.

Michigan will face Air Force on Saturday afternoon in its first home game of the 2012 season. The Wolverines are coming off a blistering 41-14 loss against the University of Alabama during a Sept. 1 match at Texas' Cowboys Stadium.


Maintenance worker Phil Willis carries two paint cans as he cleans up after priming a section of the ceiling for a future paint treatment in the tunnel that leads to the football field at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell I

As fans anticipate Michigan's first home game, and hope it doesn't follow the narrative of the team's first match, Ann Arbor residents can't ignore the telltale signs of another football season.

Here are our Top 5 ways that Ann Arbor residents know football is coming back to the Big House.

1. Strategizing your Saturdays

Need to run errands on Saturday?

Chances are you're already planning your route to the grocery store. If the game starts at 3:30 p.m., when will you need to leave for Whole Foods to avoid traffic? Or should you disrupt your routine and hit up the Whole Foods on the other side of town, taking the back roads to get there? Should you get extra groceries for Saturday evening so you can avoid eating out?

When you start strategizing your Saturdays ahead of time in order to avoid crowds, long waits and traffic, that's a clear indicator that football season is upon us and that our weekends won't quite be the same until late November.

This year, Ann Arborites - and fans - will face a challenge due to the continued closing for construction of the new Stadium bridges. Police are warning fans coming into the city who plan to park near Michigan Stadium to arrive early before the game and expect delays due to the closure of East Stadium Boulevard from South Industrial Highway to Kipke Drive.

In addition, the normal southbound, one-way system on Main Street and Ann Arbor-Saline Road from Stadium Boulevard to Interstate 94 will be in effect after the game. South State Street will have two southbound lanes going toward I-94 from Stimson Street, police said.

2. "Need a ticket?"

While scalpers are a fixture outside the stadium, these days you can tell a home game is approaching through online ticket selling venues at sites like StubHub and Craigslist.


Melanie Maxwell I

It may have something to do with the Wolverine’s shellacking at the hands of Alabama last weekend, but the normally active ticket market is rather subdued on these websites leading up to U-M’s home opener.

Face value for a ticket to the game is $75, but enterprising fans can find terrific deals in what appears to be a strong buyers market. Tickets are available for $35 on Craigslist and $40 on StubHub. On Craigslist, there’s only one post since the Alabama game attempting to charge more than $100 per ticket. While some on StubHub are asking for up to $175 per ticket for groups of 50-yard-line seats, if you’re willing to buy a single you can sit in the same spot for a mere $65.

U-M endorses StubHub as an online marketplace for Michigan football tickets, but the school warns against bartering for tickets on Craigslist, saying there is no way to ensure ticket authenticity.

On Wednesday afternoon, there were nearly 2,900 tickets to Michigan home games for sale on StubHub, 2,320 of which are listed for the Oct. 20 match against Michigan State University. The lowest ticket price available for that game, as of Wednesday afternoon, was $210.

3. Is that a drum?

Ann Arbor residents are very familiar with the distant, rhythmic and deep sound of the Michigan drum line. If you live near the Stadium and Elbel Field, the sounds of the Michigan marching band jolt you awake Saturday mornings on game days, and serenade you as you get off work on weekdays, when practices begin at 4:45 p.m.


Fans surround Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson during a 2011 game.

<div class="image_right" style="width:350px"><img alt="MICH-STADIUM-FANS-1.JPG" src="" width="350" height="232" class="mt-image-right" style="float: right; margin: 0 0 20px 20px;" /><p class="photo_credit">Melanie Maxwell I</p></div>

Since this Saturday's game starts at 3:30 p.m., passers-by will see and hear the band practicing on Elbel Field starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The band practices and plays most days except for Sundays, when members get to take a breather and prepare for the week ahead. Anyone can stop by and watch a practice.

4. Hike in beer sales

Vern George, co-owner Stadium Market on Stadium Boulevard and Packard Road, says that during football season his liquor store sells between 300 and 400 cases of beer a week. That compares to the 50 to 60 cases a week he averages off-season.

George's shop also caters between eight and 10 tailgate parties each football Saturday. Football-related beer sales are between 20 and 25 percent of his fall business, he said.

"We do run out often," said George. "During the Michigan v. Notre Dame game we completely sold out of 30 or 40 different types of packages."

He offered some advice for individuals looking to buy booze this fall: "The best thing to do is to come in either the night before or the couple of nights before and get your order in that way we can have it all pulled and paid for."


Melanie Maxwell I

5. "Go Blue" apparel

Michigan apparel stores are getting more crowded as game day approaches. No one wants to be caught without their maize and blue T-shirt, jersey, or outrageous outfit for the first game of the season. The hottest spots in Ann Arbor for U-M themed gear include All About Blue, The M-Den, Moe’s Sports Shop and Underground Printing.

Licensed apparel is big business: M Den regained its status as the official retailer of U-M athletic gear in 2010. The store is believed to pay upward of half a million dollars a year for exclusive rights that include setting up stores around Michigan Stadium on game day.

All About Blue owner Bob Duerkson said business was good last weekend ahead of the Alabama game, but he’s expecting a significant boost starting Friday.

“Last week was the first week in 15-20 years we haven’t had a home football game on Labor Day, but opening the Big House to watch the game helped us out,” he said.

“It’s been a strong week with move in and the game Saturday night, but usually we get a big bump for the first game when people come into town.”

Reporter Ben Freed contributed to this article.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.



Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

I thought everyone here was all about &quot;buying local&quot;, yet apparently we all shop at Whole Foods. Stereotype much?


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

I love everything about the return of football season! Good and bad!


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Don't forget that half the so called front page of this &quot;news-thing&quot; is about football. And THATS IN MID SUMMER. In fall it's a waste of time coming here unless you live and breathe a football team so that you can feel a part of something larger than your empty self. Don't get me started.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

I was going to add: &quot;#6 ... half the stories on the front page of are about U-M football&quot; ...but now that would be redundant.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Five signs OSU FB is back in Columbus: 1) The Buckeyes are ahead on the scoreboard 2) The Victory Bell is ringing in the SE tower of Ohio Stadium 3) TBDBITL is playing Carmen Ohio as the team leaves the field 4) Everyone wearing scarlet-&amp;-gray is smiling 5) Fans are looking for tickets to the next game Oh... the joys of autumn in the Buckeye state!


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Sign #6 (or 8?): The road construction projects near the stadium (except for the bridge) are being hastily completed.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:49 p.m., Please continue to write these enlightening articles and amaze us with such original subject matter. Sincerely, Winter-snowfall, Student-move-in-day, Art-fair-traffic


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

That was snarky....but pretty funny ;)


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Sign #8 Michigan Football is ranked in the Top Ten!


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

uh...what? do any of ya'll live in the present?


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.



Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Sign #6. Students get drunk on Saturday morning and decide not to show up on time. Alumni are feeling embarrassed by the empty student section.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Tis the season for sure. I always enjoy football Saturdays in Ann Arbor. They are special and I get out to some tailgates. Go Blue!

Jojo B

Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Who the heck is downvoting an innocuous comment like this?


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Is this news?


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

I liked the story.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

We think it's interesting how football season transforms the town for a period of time and we wanted to capture that in this article. I'm glad you're reading. Be sure to email me and let me know if you have any other stories (on football or other topics) you want to see covered here.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Kellie, I'm so sorry you had to write this mind-numbing story.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Jason, you should be more sorry we had to read this mind-numbing comment.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Haha, don't be, I enjoyed it! I think it touches on something Ann Arborites notice every fall.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

I am a proud member of the hoi polloi and do not shop at Whole Foods.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Sign#7 Michigan is back! were going to beat Sparty!


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Not likely, xmo.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

signs would indicate otherwise...


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

The racks at Walmart are clear of Michigan paraphernalia.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

Sign #6: They haven't lost at home...yet.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Let me correct that: &quot;They haven't lost at home since the 2010 season. Have a clue... yet?&quot;