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Posted on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

Will Michigan Stadium power outage affect Michigan-Ohio State game this weekend?

By Kyle Feldscher


The scoreboards at Michigan Stadium were out of commission during the first half of Saturday's game against Nebraska. Crews are working to fix them for the upcoming game against Ohio State.

Melanie Maxwell |

The power outage that affected scoreboards and vendors alike at Michigan Stadium on Saturday isn’t expected to happen for the Ohio State game, university officials say, although crews still are working on sub-station repairs.

Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, said the electrical equipment in the Big House’s sub-station failed just after 10 a.m. Saturday, leaving crews scrambling to fix it before kickoff at 12:01 p.m.

Plant Operations staff from the university worked during the first half of the game between Michigan and the University of Nebraska to restore power to the stadium’s scoreboards, but electricity wasn’t fully restored to the West tower, she said.

Brown said crews have been working since Sunday to make repairs to the sub-station and are also considering finding a temporary solution to make sure power is available for the game Saturday against Ohio State University.

The power outage affected both the game and fans.

The Wolverines lost five yards on a delay of game penalty when they were facing the scoreboard where the play clock couldn’t be shown. In response, fans counted down the time remaining on the play clock to help the Wolverines get the snap off in time.

Fundraising groups staffing the concession stands in the areas affected by the power outage also lost money when they weren’t able to accept credit and debit cards and couldn’t make hot chocolate, coffee or dispense pop. Volunteers staffing the stations estimated they lost thousands of dollars because customers would ignore their stations if they saw the lights weren’t on or would leave when they realized they couldn’t pay electronically.

Nine of the stadium’s 12 M-Den locations were unable to take electronic payments as well. Customers who came in looking to pay for things with credit or debit cards were directed to stores that could accept them.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Lets Get Real

Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:29 a.m.

I notice, in this story, there is little real concern for fans and safety; only focus on winning and money. Concern for a 5 yard penalty on the field (where by the way the team won handily) seems very minor and superficial. Concern for all the unsold overpriced food and merchandise is hard to be so upsetting (I am sorry nonprofits lost out, though), Perhaps the concern should be for 100,000 people stumbling around in the dark, trying to go to bathrooms with no natural light and no emergency lighting. How'd that pass inspection, anyway. I wonder if the guys aim was as accurate without light. I know in the ladies room, one lady got wacked by a stall door - her eyes hadn't adjusted yet and she just didn't see it opening. One stall I went in had clearly had someone miss the target. What a mess and what an inconvenience. For heavens sake Michigan, at the very least install battery pack emergency lights, and give the restroom attendants flashlights. I kept thinking UM would show some class and actually pay for some type of compensation - you know like a free cup of hot chocolate with your ticket stub at the next game (which would restore some of the revenue nonprofits lost), or a coupon for something off the purchase of logo wear (that would encourage people to buy something this week or go to one of the retail locations) - but of course not. Any small thing would make both the vendors and the fans feel more whole. But then they are Michigan. If UM receives substandard service, do you think they ask and get compensation? You bet they do. I'd make a bet the scoreboard people are getting an earful about their equipment right now. But, do they give anything back when they are the violator? Not a chance. If you are a true Michigan fan, you are just expected to "take one for the gipper" - Oh, that was a different school.

E. Daniel Ayres

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

Sounds like one more "penny wise pound foolish" electrical grid engineering effort gone critical. We had regular outages over in Ypsilanti Township in our area for several years before DTE finally got around to realizing that a new substaion was needed to accomodate all the growth south of I-94. I suspect that the power requirements of the recent rennovations at the big house were all routed through the old substation designed for the building years ago using "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to systems engineering so common in our public and private sectors.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

From a game perspective, the only real inconveniences are the time-remaining clock and the play clock. The bigger issue is this illustrates how poorly events like FB games are planned. (In fairness, I bet UM is typical of most venues.) Having a power failure in a venue with 100,000+ is a major safety concern. The same thing happened when a thunderstorm occurred during a Blue and ND game. Unlike baseball, where the home plate umpire is in charge, in college FB there is no clear line of authority to decide when a game is "called." 100,000 people are sitting in a big metal bowl in a thunderstorm and the ADs have to negociate if the game is over. As much as I hate the NCAA, they should have protocols in place that schools need to follow for stadium emergencies.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

How about a HUGE Maize & Blue backup Genny !!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

It was so much fun for fans using the restrooms in the dark. Good thing people had cell phones with lights. I was quite surprised there was not a plan for power failure in these areas. The glitz on the outside (scoreboards, etc) is nice but the rest of the structure needs to be fully operational at all times if a game is to be played with over 100k fans in attendance. Still GO Blue!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

It could be a coincidence that these kind of problems never occurred before the new scoreboards were installed. But, I'm speculating the electrical load from these larger boards had something to do with the circuit breakers failing. U-M probably doesn't want to publicize this. I would hope that by next season, Brandon will have the electrical service and equipment upgraded. Because having this kind of failure is really bad from a number of standpoints, the most critical of which is safety.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

Good point, as I was wondering about the impact the huge scoreboards, Jumbotrons have on the electrical load. Last I checked, Michigan had a real good EE Department and could lend support in diagnosing the problem. No details have emerged; is this some big secret? My guess is, after the OSU game, Dave Brandon, et al, will do some serious revamping to bring all of the circuity is up to snuff.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Eh, you mean I paid $83,000 per year for a 3-year lease on my sky box for THIS? The Official Stadium Caterer flunked both the Pâté de Foie Gras and the souffle on top of having to sit in the dark while eating them. See - the One Percent are needy too! (LOL!) Just stay on top of this,

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

Ok, time to fess up. This was simply a plot by the so-called MCC, to protest the honoring of Lloyd Carr, at the pregame. Since he worked tirelessly, to undermine the program, we felt a power outage, would somehow seem appropriate.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

it just dawned on me: W and V and I as in W = VI (watts = volts x current) are capital letters. It is probably just as well that does not publish textbooks. Your guidelines are perhaps too slavishly applied methinks.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

I thought they had power generators for this kind of thing? I mean they spent enough money to rebuild it, why not money to keep it open. Although the thought of girls, like the ones at boxing venues with big score cards walking around the rink might bring in ratings for M fans. Might want to throw in some cute guys as well.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

As an addendum to my previous post? This goes hand in hand with Black Friday. Black outs every where.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

My biggest complaint with the lack of power on Saturday in the stadium was the complete lack of lights in the restrooms. Propping the doors open does not equal emergency lighting. I understand that they needed the scoreboards for the halftime MMB show to make even the least amount of sense, but still. I think safety should have come first.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

The large restrooms down a level on the west side under the new structures had lights both times I used it - about 40 minutes before the game and right at the end of the game. If there's a problem this week with the power, give that bathroom a try.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

I wasn't at the game, but this was my first thought. No light in the restrooms? Good grief. Maybe they need to hand out free flashlights as you come into the stadium.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

It looks like Michigan is Back! Everything Top Notch!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

I think they have been having electrical problems for a while. I volunteer at one of the vendor booths sometimes to raise money for a nonprofit, and we had an issue where our freezer and warmer would sometimes trip the circuit breaker or something, resulting in melty Lemon Chills (we caught the warmer before the hot dogs got below the food safety-acceptable temp). I wonder if other booths had the same problem.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

An idea for the next renovation project at the stadium. Install stationary bikes in all the seats and cable them to the electrical grid.

Ann English

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

These comments have me wondering if there will be more blackouts at the stadium, now that the new women's and children's hospital has opened. I hear that it adds 1,000 beds to the hospital, so it's going to use even more electricity. Or is it already affecting the stadium?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

If that's what it takes for the same or similar score and result, leave the electricity alone. Since we have an opponent this Saturday which cannot count over ten without removing its shoes, much less count backwards from ten, maybe we should shut off all the power. 114,001+ concentrating on stomping the nut of the buckeye tree!! Go Blue!!!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

They can't read, either. That's why they need the big pictures on the television! LOL


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

The headline is misleading. It should read "Will last weekends power outage affect the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium this weekend?" I'd be hard pressed to think that a power outage that happened last weekend would somehow be able to affect this weekends upcoming game but hey, the story fills the ad space quota so congrats.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Dude, did you read the article? They are still having problems and considering temporary solutions. The pwoer outage occured last weekend, and they've had problems ever since, and it's still not fixed. Quit being so sassy all the time dude.

Kara Marie

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:37 a.m.

How about turning off all the lights and both scoreboards in the Stadium when its not in use, maybe, just maybe then, you will not lose power for the games.

Daniel Soebbing

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

Amen! Obviously leaving the lights and scoreboards on 24/7 didn't cause the power outage. But why are the lights and boards on all the time? I thought the u of m had this big green initiative going on, where they were installing all kinds of energy saving technology in their buildings. I bet the stadium sucks as much power as all of central campus!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

While I technically have to agree with Andy, I also whole-heartedly agree with you that it is truly moronic to have the stupid lights and scoreboards on 24/7. Mary Sure announces a new era of "sustainability" at Michigan, and then they burn enough electricity in that stadium when no one is there to heat 1000 homes. Outrageous. And hey, you never know, maybe continuous high electrical demand within the stadium led to a gradual overload and failure of the substation. It's possible.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

How in the world would turning anything off prevent a power failure from happening in the future? It's not like a lightbulb burnt out. Power isn't somehow stored in the lines. That's not how it works.

Jim Nazium

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Wow, I bet someone got an earful for this debacle. Hopefully all the work done by Martin's buddies comes with some sort of warranty. Too bad for the vendors and folks not old fashioned enough to carry enough cash for the day's events. And yes, it was and is embarrassing to not have power after so much money spent for a handful of home games every year, you'd think there would be some serious bad a55 back-up system in place for cryin' out loud.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

The Stadium works off the regional power grid, substation infrastructure is part of the stadium (like it is at any other stadium in Michigan). The University does generate it's own power but it's used almost exclusive to keep the hospital running in an emergency and hasn't expanded in ages.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

AJ...I think it's because the city doesn't like the University. Well, and vice versa.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

Why is the University allowed to operate its own power, fire, police and other services anyway and not use the existing city, county and commercially available like everyone else? This wasteful spending isn't in the taxpayers best interest and as evidenced provides no assurance of anything.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

"The electrical equipment in the Big House's sub-station failed" Any further details on this? I'm curious what equipment failed, the nature of the failure, and whether there was any redundant backup designed into the system there. And was it a failure in some fundamental electrical componet (a transformer) or a failure in some more complex piece of electrical componentry for the scoreboard itself? I wonder how many amps those scoreboards draw? Anyone willing to venture a guess based on similar systems they might have worked on?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Componentry?? The west side towers and vendors also.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Must have been more than the scoreboard electronics. They lost total power to many areas of the stadium.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:14 a.m.

A minor quibble. A back up isn't necessarily a redundancy. In this case a redundancy would be a second or third totally seperate and independent source of power and or totally seperate and independent components all the way to the end using component. A back up might be some diesel generators that supply power and depend on the existing wiring and components.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:49 a.m.

"...redundant backup..." A backup is redundant. Unless of course you mean a backup to the backup.

David Briegel

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

And always remember, they charge PREMIUM prices for their second rate facility. Normally you would demand a rain check for less than stellar delivery! And shorty, be glad you didn't sit behind 6'10" Tim McCormick! By the way, Tim is as great a Michigan Man as there ever was!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

No one's mentioned this so I will: what would have happened if the networks and stations couldn't get their signals from the stadium FOR this game? TV & radio blackout - that's what would have happened. There probably would have been a Congressional Investigation - and probably should be one anyway. It might have been interesting - just to see Dave Brandon's hair turn white over night. ;-)


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

I'm outraged!!! If the scoreboards aren't working how do they expect paying fans to watch the game?

Tom Joad

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

Concentrate on the game, not the giant tv set at either end of the stadium. Purists of the world unite!

Rabid Wolverine

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

That'd be great except for the fact where there was no play clock or game clock on 1 end of the field which didn't help out our team at all. I don't need a huge screen to watch the game, but our team needs the bare essentials to execute the plays well and on-time without having unnecessary penalties. I was suprised they didn't have a stand-alone play clock that could have been brought on to the field in case of this type of emergency....


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

That would work, except I am too short to see the field most of the time, so I count on the screens to allow me to watch the game.. Thanks for the advise though. I really appreciate it.