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Posted on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 10:29 a.m.

University of Michigan responds to Ann Arbor's request for reimbursement of game day costs

By Ryan J. Stanton

Previous story: Ann Arbor tells University of Michigan: It's time to pay for traffic services on football Saturdays

The Ann Arbor City Council made itself clear Monday night that it wants the University of Michigan to reimburse the city for traffic services provided during football games.

The only question now is: Will the university agree to pay?

Jim Kosteva, a spokesman for the university, told via e-mail today that U-M is ready and willing. Here's what he had to say:


Jim Kosteva, a former state representative who now is the director of community relations for the University of Michigan.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The university remains keenly interested in providing its game day patrons a positive fan experience which, in our view includes, safely and effectively facilitating their arrival and departure to and from the stadium area by car.

When we were presented a bill for these personnel, which charged nearly $200 per hour or double the amount paid to the Ann Arbor police providing security and traffic management on game days, we thought it was responsible on our part to seek a negotiation.

The university has given the city assurances that it will pay a reasonable charge for any and all signs and signals personnel deployed at key intersections for the 2011 season. We have backed that assurance up by offering a financial package that more than covers city estimates of anticipated charges to provide those services this fall.

The remaining discussion surrounds the details of what is a reasonable overhead charge and the allocation of the funding that has been offered.

Kosteva didn't offer a dollar amount for the financial package he referenced in his e-mail. City officials say they're looking to recoup what amounts to about $100,000 annually in costs to the city for "signs and signals" services.

In a followup e-mail, Kosteva said it's not a particular dollar amount that's in question. He said the university's point of difference surrounds what are the appropriate benefits and administrative overhead charges that should be added to the salary rate.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Fri, Aug 19, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

The $200 must include the mayor and city council tax for public art which they seem to be their primary focus.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Righteous indignation is fun to read, but I'll leave that to other fired-up citizens and warn, instead, against what our society seems to have come to embrace: the simple, knee-jerk reaction. It would seem an oversimplification to argue that major university events only tax the city's cash-strapped public service departments without providing an influx of revenue the city would otherwise not see. How much money, for example, does the city gain on a football Saturday from parking revenue at city lots? How much money does the AATA gain from running shuttle service to and from the stadium? The DDA likely salivates over the revenue that game-day crowds bring to its coffers, and I've been trying for 15 years to determine where city government ends and the DDA begins. It would be responsible to see the figures on the other side of the balance sheet (i.e. the revenue generated for the city by home football games) before sarcastically wondering why the university has not been doing more to compensate the city for police services. To make my point through an inverse argument, should the university ask the city, the DDA, stores, businesses, and even the citizens who park cars on their lawn or sell brownies on their sidewalks to pay the university a percentage of their take on game days? I raise this argument only as a way of demonstrating that we likely do not have enough information about "game-day" impact to make an informed decision about whether or not the university is paying enough for services.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

What would Ann Arbor be without the University? Benton Harbor?


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Why not charge $500 per hour? The U already sucks the city dry by utilizing city services without paying into the tax base. Let's show them who runs the show. Besides, where are they going to go?

Patrick Caveney

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

and yet, what would be the loss in revenues if the university was non-existent to AA? how much would they lose in revenues they currently pocket which I am sure drastically off-sets the law enforcement need for 6-8 games during the football season...


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

UofM is not going to pull up stakes and move.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

I suggest you look up the definition of a non-sequitur. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

I think the athletic budget can afford $100K.

Sports Girl

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

Affordability and being smart with your money are two separate things. Unfortunately, the city hasn't figured this out just yet.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

Will the city of Ann Arbor give the U a percentage of the increased business profits generated by all the people coming to town for U activities?


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 2:13 a.m.

The town must prohibit all home games - that's the only solution.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

How many people are commenting without reading. The university has always reimbursed the city for additional game day police and fire services. This is about traffic control. Please read before commenting.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

What - read the actual article? What fun is that?


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 5:21 a.m.

I'm sure you did Ed because you read. There are many posters who did not.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

Yes. We understood. Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

The timing of this request is terrible. Not only because the football season is just about to start, but because we have had so many violent incidents just off of campus this summer (including a robbery on Sunday), and the police seem completely impotent when it comes to patrols. That's a very loud message from City Hall that it's all about taking money for its pet projects, not serving the citizens.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Aug 18, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

Yes, they do. Directly, because it increases the value of a business. And indirectly, as we receive a percentage of the money collected by state businesses and those games bring in a lot of new spending that wouldn't otherwise be captured.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

Apples and Oranges The city's coffers benefit not at all from 8 days of good business for those select few businesses (e.g., restaurants). Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Wow. That was worth two pretentious taglines. I don't think they have any objections to paying the true cost of the extra police work. Or hiring people to handle it themselves. But let's not pretend those game days aren't a huge boon to area businesses, particularly restaurants and hotels.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 10:17 a.m.

What???? The question here is the university paying for services rendered. No matter how much business comes to A2 for the football games, the city of A2, who right now pays for those services rendered, sees no increased revenue from that increase in business. And I cannot think of one business--not one--that would dry up and go away were the U of M to decide to play all of its games at Ford Field rather than at the Big House. No one goes into business depending on 8 days a year of fat city and barely scraping by the other 357. Nor therefore can I imagine property values going down in that event (might go UP in the adjacent neighborhoods). I therefore have a hard time believing that having 100,000(+) people in time 8 times a year drives up property value. The U of M rakes in millions of dollars for every home game. Can't imagine what the objection is to them paying the cost of services rendered (in this case, about $12,500 per game, using A2's numbers). Good Night and Good Luck Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

So, in other words, a business cannot be valued by its revenue? Because that would affect the value of the land, and hence allow for higher tax revenue.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 11:01 p.m.

Macabre: There can be no doubt that having 100,000(+) people in A2 benefits the town's businesses. But little if any of that "trickles down" (or up, if you prefer) to the city, given that there is no sales tax nor is there a tax on business. The city's primary source of revenue--property taxes--is unaffected by the 7 to 8 times per year that those fans come to town. But the costs of hosting those fans is more than the average day in A2. Someone above asked about what the city charges the art fairs for similar issues. A fair question. But that notwithstanding, it seems fair to ask that the U to kick in to cover the extra costs of having its money-making extravaganza come to town on fall weekends. Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

So, it's your position that an event that brings tens of thousands of customers to Ann Arbor is of no benefit to the city? In many areas around the country, politicians build sports stadiums for private teams based on that fact alone. I don't agree with that argument, either.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

See, I feel just the opposite. This is an example of city hall taking money back from one of its long sponsored pet projects and finally putting it to use serving citizens by no longer forcing the citizens to sponsor game days with their hard earned tax dollars.

r treat

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

Its really time for some new faces in Ann Arbor!!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

Laurel: "According to the NCPA: In Cleveland, for example, the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers pay about $500,000 for police to direct traffic and patrol the area. . ." Interesting: The Browns play 10 home games, the Indians play 80 home games, and the Cavs play 41 home games. That's 131 home games, not including playoffs, or $3,817 per game. UM plays about 10 home games per season. $3,817 per game x 10 games = $38,170. I guess UM has a good point. city a2 charges appear high in relation to Laurel's data. Time to look at numbers again. Where are your numbers city a2?

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

We only have a few "Golden Gooses" left around here. Best not to pick on the biggest one.

Sports Girl

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

"Interesting" clarification . . . Very "interesting" indeed! :)


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

"Interesting" clarification . . .


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

Your approximated, imaginary figure would be more appropriate if you take note that the budget financed in Cleveland pays for signs and traffic control as well as the increased police. Ann Arbor's proposed bill to the University only covers street signs and traffic control, not the added police who are needed to patrol and perform security positions. So your figure of $38,170 only goes towards the signage, not the actual police carrying out the security/protection work. I wonder if this clears up the difference in pricing for you.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

According to the NCPA: "In Cleveland, for example, the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers pay about $500,000 for police to direct traffic and patrol the area" They are not even collegiate teams, of course we should be charging the University!! Though these game days are essential to bring extra revenue to the city, that does not mean we should bring it in at the expense of our own, hard earned tax paying dollars!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

Well then, if the U will pay for overhead for traffic coming into the stadium on game days why would this be any different then asking them to pay for a portion of the railroad bridge? A lot of fans come over that bridge via car, bike and foot to attend these football games. At some point the bridge is going to fall through.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Cat, Far more people use that bridge at other times than those who come to attend a game. The event fees are fair because they are specific to a U sponsered activity.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

It seems fair that the University should pay for the services, but not an amount that appears to be gouging. The U never said it wouldn't pay, just that it wanted a fair charge. Oh wait!! There's that metal thing they want to buy for the ugly police building.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Elaine, there is no police building, just the new city hall of which the AAPD occupies the second floor, without a lockerroom onsite. The one used is currently housed down near Stone School Road and why bash the cops? Bash your elected officals for their stupidity in architectural design [or lack thereof]...I know I didn't vote for any of them!

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

I should have said that the CITY wants to buy for the ugly police building.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

And the tolls would be $10.00 to get into the city, $20.00 to get out after the game. Residents could be issued decals so they don't have to pay.

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

I can remember when local hotel and restaurant owners complained when they started to make Main Street one way out after the games. That made it too easy for folks to leave town. Used to be you could stay and eat a nice after game meal and leave after the traffic was better. With all our restaurants we could take even more !! Of course no one has mentioned the one lane traffic and then no traffic for over a year on the Stadium bridges... won't that require some more signal adjustments ?


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

How about installing toll gates on Main Street, Stadium and State Streets fur use on football Saturdays?


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

: )


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

That'd be nice if drivers couldn't find a way around it. Most people who have a GPS unit in their vehicle or on their smart phone will surely find alternate routes that circumvent these tolls, but I like the way you're thinking...


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Now I understand why the payment was not a slam dunk for the U. I am sure that all the people doing this job would love to make $200 per hour including their benefits.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

81Wolverine; it's not that steep when you have approx 15-20 city employees working. I have a friend that works for the traffic light department in the city and they have to work every football Saturday and the city employees work about 5 or 6 intersections


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

This sounds like a very reasonable position. It would appear that both the University and the City will actually work this out in a decent fashion. How nice to see that sometimes people can get together and solve something in an accommodating fashion! Bravo! Nevertheless, there will be rants ....

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

City bureaucracy has grown and now they are attempting to leverage their law enforcement monopoly to overcharge for services that could possibly in the present be a revenue generator based upon the increase in tickets that are written on game days vs non game days. Someone needs to FOIA those records and see if the City is not attempting to double dip. A private company could direct traffic just fine for a fraction of $200.00 per hour


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

Chase Ingersoll, You pose an interesting point, but I would not be inclined to listen to anyone from a private company on a public right of way. I suspect that most would not do so, either, especially after the game.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

I would LOVE to see the U contract out their own employees, via private company. Please do!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

...someone needs to FOIA those records.... Don't pass the buck. I nominate you as that someone. Let us know what you find out.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Gee. Was it the "without thinking" part of my last that got it censored? I'll try again. One wonders who the would-be state senator from Ann Arbor would have represented had he been elected: A2's taxpayers, who foot the bill for UM gameday activities, or the UofM who currently receive those services free-of-charge? Or is it simply that he is so ideologically and intellectually rigid and anti-government that he cannot fathom the possibility that the city ought receive payment for services rendered? Inquiring minds want to know, especially if he ever considers running for elective office again. Good Night and Good Luck

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

You would prefer that local taxpayers just continue to bend over and pay for the UM operations twice in the form of State taxes and again with shrinking local tax base due to the UM taking property off the rolls?

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

Yes, how many traffic engineers does it take to change the timing pattern to the game day version? I would think that would be a mere keystroke by now.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6 p.m.

First, I think the U should reimburse the city for any reasonable expenses incurred due to the football games. But, while reading the comments I keep thinking of the person who buys a house next to a pig farm and then complained about the smell. Ann Arbor is not unique. Unless you have lived in Ann Arbor prior to the stadium being built, you really can't complain. For those that live around the stadium, I guess you didn't do your due diligence prior to purchasing your house.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Except for those natural born Ann Arborites, eh?? Are you suggesting they should just put up and shut up without trying to make a positive impact in a growing city??

John A2

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

And that's not all. The police, who are there in drove's, are very expensive. So I read what the article said is that they will pay for the signs and signal personnel, but what about the all the cops who secure the stadium?


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Wow, it's in the story. UM has always reimbursed the city for additional police and fire personnel. This is about traffic control.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

Sadly, many people here are having issues reading. You're one of the few posts who is actually understanding this correctly. Many people assume the money goes towards police on the beat, when in reality it's just the traffic signs/control. Quite a legitimate charge.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

I was born and raised in Ann Arbor and all I can say is that it is about time already! For all the stress and personal loss due to U of M home games, the residents who have to deal with the added traffic and hassle incurred just trying to live life should be compensated! Someone suggested that this is just a prelude to closing main street, but they basically do that anyway! Ann Arbor-Saline (South Main St.) gets closed for every home game and the traffic back-up/over-spill onto side streets is ridiculous. We should include an environmental fee for added exhaust/idling fumes that are pumped into our little town of foliage during all the traffic congestion as a result of these games too!


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

do not worry about environmental fee. the idle law will make up for it. i am pretty sure the police will take advantage of the football games to make a bunch of money.

Rabid Wolverine

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

This won't change the effectiveness of the traffic control. It will only ensure UofM pays for the services. What personal loss have you had due to living in downtown AA during the fall? You make this sound like it is a tragedy that you ahve to be inconvenienced for 7-8 Saturdays a year due to all the cas infusion happening in your poor little neighborhood. Wuould you rather be tied to GM like Flint and now be one of the country's most dangerous cities?


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

I'm not born and raised in A2 but have lived here for over 35 years. I thought football Saturdays are part of the fun and uniqueness of living in a university town. Sure football Saturdays are inconvenient, but I've learned to "deal with it". If I could no longer bear it, then I'd consider moving elsewhere, but no plans of that happening anytime soon. Did I read that right? "residents should be compensated...." really?


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Hoosier Daddy? :)


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

Like my daddy always told me: "You play, you pay!"


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Shouldn't the athletic department be the ones paying?

John Herlocher

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

It seems reasonable for the University to share in the costs. Its also fair to say that the football games benefit the entire city. They draw huge crowds here to spend money, parking, shopping, and dining downtown. Football games benefit and cost both the University and the City. I'd suggest a fair compromise on the costs with a full explanation of the overhead charged for supporting staff.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

I find it outrageous that they haven't been paying for these services up to this point! After years of getting a free-ride on the backs of A2 taxpayers, they need to man up and pay the bills!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

Aww leave the poor U alone! After all think od all the egregious idling ticket revenue you could be generating thanks to the Big House!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

It seems to me that the U of M is not considering ALL the costs involved in city services such as "loss of service" to other areas of the community, pension costs, overtime, service and community disruption, and how about a "resonable profit" which U of M considers in tuition, game tickets, and services "they" provide. I say this is another reason for the citizends to vote on a "city income tax" that would tap into the incomes of 44,000 U of M employees to the tune of an additional 14 million dollars a year in city revenue. That sum buys a lot of public safety and other services for the community. City council should be going after the bucks that will MOST benefit the community not their individual belief and value systems.

Doug Reed

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

$200 hour is for police pay at an overtime rate plus the city exacting its "administrative" piece of the action.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Actually this is for the traffic control and signage for the day, not even contributing towards police pay... Please read/research before posting...


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

This is probably just a prelude to closing Main st. on game days

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

deb for the win!


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

"The remaining discussion surrounds the details of what is a reasonable overhead charge and the allocation of the funding that has been offered." "...He said the university's point of difference surrounds what are the appropriate benefits and administrative overhead charges that should be added to the salary rate." It seems reasonable for the City to charge the University the same overhead that the University charges to grants coming into the University using the same rationale that the University does to justify those percentages. This should be both enlightening to the public and beneficial to the City's coffers.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

$200 an hour is not much at all for the U. They should not only be paying any and all wages related to services but also the supplies such as gas, equipment maintenance such a sign repair ( I'm sure more than one sign or safety cone is ran over by a drunk ), boarding costs for anyone arrested or detained and the many other costs incurred due to the games. If the U can not handle the real costs then perhaps they should tell the hospital to stop handing out 44% raises shortly after laying off hundreds of workers.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Please tell everyone what "tax revenue" do sports fans bring to the city?? Property taxes? Payroll taxes? Gas tax? Sales tax? Income tax? Hotel and entertainment tax? And tell us how much that all adds up to and what portion goes to the city. What kind of taxes do game day commuters pay to the city that the city should give back to the UM? Income tax for UM commuters, 10 cent local entertainment tax on game tickets. UM pays for city services rendered like any business. Problem solved.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Then the city should pay the University a percentage of all the tax revenue brought in by the tens of thousands of people who visit Ann Arbor solely to go to these games.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

The poll cites "all" traffic costs. I can't reply in any way including undecided until the term "all" is defined and agreed on. Someone's "all" could include really extraneous things that they believe are influenced by game traffic, btu really aren't mutually acceptable.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.



Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

$200 an hour? That does seem kind of steep. You can hire most lawyers and doctors for that much.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

um no you can't. seriously.


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

Do you really want lawyers directing traffic? You think it is a mess now....


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

Hah! The $200 hour/attorney is the one doing all of the grunt work for the $400/hour attorney.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Since we don't know what this cost includes it could be like your plumber where the hourly cost includes the truck, its operating costs, inventory of parts and materials, etc. We've been given an incomplete story so far.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

I would have assumed that the U of M had been contributing to these services all along. Seems late to be asking for it. On the other hand, the games do bring in a lot of revenue to the community I suppose. Having grown up in Ann Arbor, I avoid Ann Arbor pretty much on football Saturdays if possible.


Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

So if you, and well as the rest of the population avoid Ann Arbor "pretty much on fotball Saturdays", how is this generating "a lot of revenue" for Ann Arbor? For the most part, UofM recieves the bulk of the revenue while contributing very little towards the cost of providing the entertainment. How's that repair on the bridge working out for you?


Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Funny that this is such a big deal while the millions Ann Arbor is dumping into the Fuller Road station is hardly a blip on the radar. Millions there and no real open, public discussion ( and then the Council wants to focus on $100k here. At least they should look at their own budget and the cell phone / 'business' lunches and dinners if this is such a big deal.