Michigan marching band will not travel to Dallas for season-opening football game
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
The Michigan football team's marching band will not be making the trip to Texas for the Wolverines' season opener against Alabama.
The band was informed of the athletic department's decision Thursday afternoon via email, according to a current member of the marching band.
Michigan is set to play Alabama on Sept. 1 in what is being billed as the Cowboys Classic. It will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and is expected to be the nation's preeminent opening-weekend game.
Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf said the Wolverines are treating the event as a typical road game in this matter, though, because of the cost associated with the 1,200-mile trip.
"We are treating the Cowboys Classic game against Alabama as any other road game," Ablauf wrote in an email. "We do not have a travel allowance for the band like we would for a bowl game.
"They traditionally travel to conference games and our rivalry game against Notre Dame. We have not taken our band on similar trips in the past."
Michigan will be paid $4.7 million for appearing in the game. In its contract for the matchup, it was guaranteed seating for the band.
The Crimson Tide's band is scheduled to attend the game.
There was a negative backlash on Twitter after the Michigan Daily reported the decision. The band also is unhappy about the move, with several email strands started between sections that call for members to voice their displeasure.
However, band members are being told not to comment publicly on the matter.
One letter, penned by a current band member's parents, was sent to athletic director Dave Brandon and Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman. It reads:
"We are writing to express our strong opposition to the Athletic Department’s decision not to take the Michigan Marching Band to the Michigan-Alabama game in Dallas. It is our understanding that Michigan will be paid 4.5 million dollars to participate in this game, and the athletic department is unwilling to fund the band’s participation. The Michigan Marching Band members work tirelessly for the entire season, spending comparable hours in practice to the football team (or any athletic team), in preparation for each show. Each week the band high steps into the stadium results in the eruption of thunderous cheering and applause from the home crowd. They play on almost every down throughout the game, helping to keep the fans involved. They add an integral component to the tailgate, pre-game, and half-time activities which would be sorely missed in a huge event such as this. Alabama is bringing their band, and we would look pathetic by leaving ours at home. In the words of Brady Hoke, “This is Michigan for God's sake!” Tickets and non-refundable travel arrangements have already been purchased by tens of thousands of Michigan fans, who will be expecting to see the full Michigan game day experience. Please take the Band!"