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Posted on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

Athletic department wants to add permanent lights to Michigan Stadium

By David Jesse

Tony McDonald can’t wait until next year’s Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game.

That’s because the game on Sept. 10, 2011 will be the first night game played in Michigan Stadium.

“It’s going to be such a great atmosphere,” the 2006 U-M graduate said. “I’ve got a lot of friends who go to schools that have hosted night games and they say it’s just awesome.”

If the U-M Board of Regents gives its approval on Thursday, the game will take place under new, permanent lights.


The U-M Board of Regents is being asked to approve new, permanent lights for Michigan Stadium.

Melanie Maxwell I

The athletic department has asked for approval to spend $1.8 million out of athletic department resources to put up the lights, according to a memo included this morning in the regent’s meeting packet.

The memo does not include any information on where in the stadium the lights will go, but does say that the department anticipates construction to be complete this fall.

A request for comment from the department was not returned.

The department has been using temporary lights for late afternoon game, especially in the late fall.

However, plans to host a night hockey game this December at the stadium, tied with the plans for the first-ever totally night game next football season have made the move necessary, the memo from athletic director Dave Brandon and Timothy Slottow, the university’s CFO, said.

“It is expected that the demands for field lighting will continue to increase over time,” the memo says. “This project will provide permanently-mounted lighting a the stadium, with the benefits of increased quality of illumination, greater reliability, and improved aesthetics. The scope of this project includes the architectural, mechanical and electrical work necessary to accomplish these improvements.”

David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

Actually this is the first night game ever at the Big House. They have played late afternoon games that have crept into the night, but never started one in the night. It isn't that the temporary ones are not an option, but putting real lights up is a better option. They are planning to play more night games as the year goes on, along with the winter hockey games they plan to play at night in the Big House. With the plans of playing more night games, it only makes sense to put in the lights permanently. Why would you continue to rent the lights, when you could put in your own?


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 5:32 p.m.

Always kills me how against night games people are, so silly.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

"awesome is hardly a word that comes to mind in the description of a night game at UM stadium. More appropriate words might be: additional congestion, late getting back to E. Lansing, additional clothing causing more cramped seats, inconvienience for senior citizens. Of course the motivation for lights will be additional revenue from TV coverage.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

We sold a house within a 9 iron of the 50 yard line and got a 50% premium because the stadium was there. You either love it or hate it. If you hate it don't live there. We lived there 50 years and loved every Michigan game!


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

I certainly would not want to be a home owner in that neighborhood. So much for the property values. We will most likely see increased vandalism because you won't be able to spot the drunks as easily in the dark.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

Must be nice to have Maize and Blue blank checks.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

heartbreakM - my first year student ticket packet at the University was $0.00 - that's right, free, gratis. The stadium was never filled. High school students were admitted free after halftime. We had an annual high school band day for one of the games to increase attendance. When a $1.00 "service fee" for the student ticket packet (for all home games) was imposed, you'd have thought the world was coming to an end from the uproar that was raised. The 2-7 record (1-6 Big Ten) didn't help. But Bump Elliott did beat his brother Pete (we won the Illinois game). And we had a pretty good quarterback - Bob Timberlake. Granted, I'm talking about Michigan football in the years B.C. (before Canham). But it costs to compete in the world of successful college football. It is entertainment, and those being entertained must pay the tab. Think of it as a user fee. (How much have concert prices risen since your $6 ticket prices were in place?)


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

I actually was surprised when I went to the opening game against UCONN and didn't see lights. I seriously thought it was part of the renovation plans. Personally, I'd take early September games at night as an alternative to the heat of the afternoon. Crammed in like sardines in 90+degree heat really isn't a lot of fun. So, bring on the lights.

4 Fingers

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:34 a.m.

It's about time! I heard it cost $125,000.00 per light truck when ABC would bring them in for late fall afternoon games. Someone also told me the adjoining neighborhoods have been opposed to night games for years. In any event, it should generate some good revenue for businesses in the area.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

Night games have been an area of contention within the athletic department for years. I know Bo was adamantly against them. But, with the new regime, there seems to be a greater willingness to change with the times. As big as the logistical (traffic, lighting) and timing issues are, it's definitely a big plus for the program. These games are on national TV - not regional. So, they get great exposure for the program. This helps in recruiting without a doubt. They need lighting anyway for many of the late season, Big Ten games. This enables us to NOT put in those annoying temporary lighting cranes that take up valuable space in the concourse - which they don't have any more. And many other schools have hosted night games and it's worked out fine. If they can do it, Michigan certainly can.

Some Guy in 734

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:15 a.m.

Night games seem like a fait accompli at this point. I have it on fairly good authority that after other schools have tried it, the world has continued to exist. (I'm not entirely sure how they manage--such is the resilience of the human spirit, I suppose.) For that matter, Michigan football teams are theoretically able to win night games. Remember Minnesota in 2003? And on a Friday, no less. If night games are in the cards, and with the number of 3:30 games in a normal season, I'm hard-pressed to understand why temporary lighting is preferable to permanent.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:10 a.m.

No lights the TV people pay to put them in and pay for the power. Lights installed the department pays all. Either way the University uses ZERO Dollars. NO SCHOOL MONEY GOES TO THE ATHLETIC PROGRAM!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

Night games. Fun, but it does get pretty cold. The older fans may stay away.

Marvin Face

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:13 p.m.

Sorry Michboy. You got it all wrong. It was in the project from the beginning. Baby steps. Scoreboards next.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:06 p.m.

Great!! Love it!!....Love it!! They did not do this with the renovation because a certain athletic director did not plan ahead, so when D Brandon came on it was one of the first things he did, but it was too late to add it to the renovation.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:36 p.m.

These night games could cut in to post game business at area watering holes and restaurants. Surly some of the 100,000 plus who might otherwise spend a little post game time in town may just hit the road for home when they get out at 10:30 or later.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:25 p.m.

Great, I will be forced to stay on one side or the other of Ann Arbor for longer periods of time, possibly well into the wee hours. As if traffic wasn't bad enough already without making any accommodations for those that live in the area. I've literally been within spitting distance of my home but stuck on the wrong side of the street and therefore SOL, back into the traffic mess for you.

Marvin Face

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:10 p.m.

Before everyone gets themselves twisted into knots, the lighting was designed into the stadium. There are already mounts and structure on the roof of each tower where the lights will go. The only construction will be a crane that drops them in place. This has been a serious consideration for over 5 years.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

I was raised in Chicagoland and this reminds me when Wrigley Field installed lights. The arguments stemmed from baseball was meant to be watch in daylight to baseball fans pissing on the brownstones.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.

Craig: Your logic makes no sense to me. The notion of sleeping in until 2 PM does not really apply to the vast majority of fans. I am not even sure most fans drink to excess, but those who do will now have a bigger opportunity to do so, and we should be concerned about the problem of binge drinking on campuses nationwide. Oldblueypsi: I know that the money for athletics at UM comes from athletic dept coffers. But really, they have raised ticket prices consistently through the years, including seat licenses and when I was a student, tickets cost about 6 bucks. In that period of time, ticket prices have increased by about 500 or more percent. I think with the higher and higher cost of attending UM, the athletic department can give the students a break on this cost rather than putting in (unnecessary in my opinion) permanent lights. That could be hundreds of dollars per student, or enough for a few extra textbooks (or bottles of water in the stadium)

Adam Dickson

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.

How will the construction work? will they have to shut down main street again? Agree that this should have been done with the larger renovation...more construction...ack! The Memo says... "The estimated cost of the project is $1,800,000. Funding will be provided from Athletic Department resources. The construction cash flow may be provided, all or in part, by increasing the commercial paper issuance under the commercial paper program, secured by a pledge of General Revenues, and authorized by the Board of Regents. The architectural firm of HNTB Michigan Architecture, Inc. will design the project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2010."


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:40 p.m.

@Ross, the article mentions $1.8 million, not the $17 million guesstimate you tossed out. These are lights we're talking about, right? Not a 300 foot tower of a football or some ugly yellow halo around the edge of the stadium, right? Lights These are just lights. So that the U can host more evening activities at the stadium. Lights. Okay, good, I thought this was something that really needed people to overreact to. Lights.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

Apparently some of the critics (of the lights) fail to understand one important fact - the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics operates its own budget. The sources of its funds are the revenue generating sports at the University of Michigan. The beneficiaries are both the revenue and non-revenue generating sports, and the University of Michigan (BCIA pays the tuition for the scholarships awarded to the "student-athletes"). Unlike other state institutions (including Moo U and Value City State U), state funds are not used for stadium renovations and improvements. Feeding starving children, lowering tuition, library support and scholarships are red herrings.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

""Decrease student drinking"? Are you out of your mind?" No not at all. Here is my theory. The "problem drinkers" are going to drink before and after the game and some/many during the game. further more they will drink till "XX:xx PM or perhaps 0X:xx AM" regardless of the start time. So if its a noon game they start drinking at 9 AM and continue till "XX:xx PM or perhaps 0X:xx AM". If its a 3:30 game they sleep in a little longer and start at say noon. BUT they still drink till "XX:xx PM or perhaps 0X:xx AM". Clearly a night start allows them to sleep in till 2. So they don't start drinking till 3 or 4. But regardless the quiting time doesn't much change...."XX:xx PM or perhaps 0X:xx AM". So later starts result in less drinking because the quit time remains a constant whereas the start time varies.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:21 p.m.

@ Chuck- That is why I live in a hut now. I gave my money to the kids. @ Reid- The lights will be powered by bald eagles trying to get free. They will flap their wings and that will power the lights.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

Yeah! Light up the place. Let's get ready for some prime time football and make some big $$$.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

"Decrease student drinking"? Are you out of your mind? The night games are basically reasons for the students and fans to drink all day and tailgate for hours before descending on the stadium. The drinking on campus is a major concern, and not just student drinking but all the other fans who will be driving, too. I am a traditionalist, and really do not want to see night games at UM Stadium. I find a great amount of joy associated with the daytime games, with its whole atmosphere (not commenting on the outcomes of games or stress that M football causes). I think the tradition of college football is continuing to be eroded and the installation of lights is yet one more nail. I do believe it's inevitable, but I hope that the costs would be placed into more meaningful places, like reducing cost of student tickets, or library support, or scholarship.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

I agree with Ross "We all knew it was coming." At least we all should have known. After building that giant monstrosity of an addition they weren't going to move all games back to noon starts. So the continued use of portable lights vs permanent lights were the two options. Once the fan base accepted the current changes hanging some lights was going to be easy. I think these late games will actually decrease student drinking because now they can sleep in till 2pm before they start.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

Sounds good as long as UM plans to hire a new football coach first. GO BLUE!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

It is nice to see the University taking their Sustainability message to heart. I guess we will install lights, but how will they be powered? Perhaps the athletic department will pay for wind turbines to generate energy to light the evening skies. Otherwise, the University is again being a poor steward of motherearth, consume, consume, consume, who cares that Greenland is melting, I won't be around when the earth comes to an end anyway, the heck with the next generation. What a selfish act!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

@afterdark...there have been late afternoon games that have required lighting but no games that ever started after 3:30. Please correct me if I am wrong. @ross...not sure where all these other schools are in the Big Ten that have acres of lighting. Ann Arbor Golf and Outing has added several permanent light towers. The U course uses temporary lighting but needs more.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

Great it is about time.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

Permanent lights absolutely!!! New bigger scoreboards with HD. I love it!!!!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

@ afterdark (appropriate posting name, btw) : Actually there has never been a game starting after 3:30 pm, to my knowledge. Perhaps what you are thinking of is the fact that games starting at 3:30 in late October or early November finish after the sun has in fact gone down (especially that triple overtime game with MSU!). This scheduled game has either a 7 or 8pm start time, I forget. But there was one last year (when the towers were already constructed) and the normal crane lighting rigs did just fine, iirc. But yeah, out of town fans will face significant risk of vehicle damage...

thomas h blaske

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

this is ominous for many out of town fans


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:04 p.m.

I don't really understand why this wasn't baked into the stadium expansion project. We all knew it was coming. Maybe to avoid sticker shock for the extra multi-million dollar cost. Any guesses? I'm going with 17 million. The thing that university officials fail to realize (or at least mention) is how there is almost no vehicle parking with appropriate lighting for leaving in the dark. Many other schools' stadiums are surrounded by acres of lit, paved parking lots. We have a giant unlit golf course, high school fields, and then joe schmoe backyards. DPS better be ready to handle the almost guaranteed increase in vehicle accidents, drunk driving citations, and personal injuries that stem from this move. Not to mention alcohol related incidents in general, from the day-long binge drinking that all the students will do. That said, the atmosphere will be incredible, and since I walk to the games, I say bring it on. haha.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

I was luke warm on the stadium renovations until I saw the project nearing completion. I love the final result and wrote the website of the naysayer to tell him so and that it was time to give it up. BUT. I do not favor the installation of permanent lights, IMHO that is going to far. Reconstruction was needed, badly, but the addition of lights is not. Unlike the stadium reconstruction the addition of lights cannot be justified on any grounds other than $$$$$.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

"Thats because the game on Sept. 10, 2011 will be the first night game played in Michigan Stadium." Whaaaat? There have been night games at the stadium before!!! This will merely be the first since the most recent stadium renovation. I suppose the portable lighting towers won't reach over the top now like they could in the past.