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Posted on Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Power outage at Michigan stadiums equals big losses for fundraising groups

By Pete Cunningham


The pregame flyover worked, but the scoreboards were down for much of the game Saturday because of a partial power outage at Michigan Stadium.

Melanie Maxwell |

Several fundraisers took a big hit on Saturday when power outages inside Michigan Stadium left several concessions stands without electricity.

Without the ability to heat food or beverages, dispense soda, complete electronic transactions from machines or in some cases even turn on their lights, many concession stands were rendered useless.

Fans lost a feel good moment when Lloyd Carr’s tribute video couldn’t be shown due to the power issues, and the Michigan football team lost 5 yards on a delay of game penalty after some confusion with the play clock.

But the organizations staffing the concession stands lost money.

The organizations that staff the concession stands earn 9 percent of whatever sales they make on game days. For those few that didn’t have any power the entire game, like the Hartland High School stand under Section 18 on the south west end of the stadium, the effects were enormous.

“Unfortunately, we had to turn away many customers today because we didn’t have soda, we didn’t have hot chocolate, coffee, and we couldn’t take credit cards,” said one man at the Harland High School concession stand, who asked not to be identified.

He said many customers saw that their lights weren’t on and kept walking, assuming they were closed. Others would leave once they found out they couldn’t pay electronically or buy a soda.

“I mean, come one, no matter what you’re getting, everyone wants a drink,” the man said.

Another volunteer in the Harland concession estimated that they lost out on $5,000 in soda sales.

One station down, a booth worked by volunteers from the John Glenn High School soccer team were a little more fortunate in that their lights worked and they could dispense soda. But they didn’t have the ability to heat food or take credit cards.

Caralee Castelli, who runs the stand for the soccer team, estimated that they’d enjoyed maybe half of the $12,000 in sales normally expected on game day.

Toward the north end of the stadium, under section 25, the Huron High School concession stand did not experience any issues with the power, and saw a spike in sales. The stand sold out of hot chocolate, pretzels and other hot items by 2:30 p.m., which one volunteer said is far earlier than normal.

The volunteer estimated that their lines were 20 percent longer.

Nine of the 12 M-Den locations were unable to take electronic payments. Customers wishing to pay electronically were directed to stores with the capability.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Pete Cunningham

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Just a little update, Carlee Castelli, of the John Glenn High School soccer team fundraiser, called to report that that final count at her concession stand was a little better than anticipated. After her final count, she estimated her concession to have lost out on between $3,000 and $5,000 due to the power outage. She had originally guessed it would be around $6,000 (i.e. half of $12,000).

UM Rocks

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

The organizations only get 9% of what they sell?? WTH?!?!?!


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

DIANE: I believe the "fly-over" is your federal tax dollars at work. The US Dept of Defense has an advertising/promotional budget for things like this (and the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Golden Knights, ect.). It makes us all feel more patriotic and is an enlistment promotion. Don't worry... no precious UM-FB ticket sales were used. While everyone is "piling on" about Pete's "pop-vs-soda" writing style, it should be noted that failing to make money is different than "losing money." No charity lost money. They simply didn't make what they anticipated and hoped. Nonetheless, for those charities involved, it is tragic. Hopefully, they'll get "preferred status" for next season.


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

By the way who pays for the jets to fly over the stadium???


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

The American Taxpayer. It's part of the military's PR program to get people to join.


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

To the first two missed the point. I would really like to know WHY there was a colossal power outage that had more than just a scoreboard impact. Your trivial knit-picking on soda versus pop make you both look immature. Get another hobby.


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

It is amazing to me that MDen had no backup plan. You can use cell technology you know...


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

I agree with krdunnam -- please update your style guide. I've lived outside Michigan long enough that "soda" no longer sounds jarring to me, but whenever I'm back in Ann Arbor, it's a relief to be able to say "pop" again.


Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

"Soda"?? Really?? Here in the grand and glorious state of Michigan, that's known as "pop."