Tuesday, September 6, 2011
More night games likely for Big House
By Brian Bennett
Dave Brandon said, "Let there be light." And if he sees that all is good by early Sunday morning, Brandon won't just let the idea rest.
The Michigan athletic director said Tuesday that Saturday's first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium against Notre Dame will serve as a litmus test for future contests under the Big House lights. Brandon said he can envision an annual night game in Ann Arbor going forward.
"I would like to do one night game a year if it goes well," Brandon told reporters. "If it doesn't go well, it doesn't matter what I'd like to do. It would have to be right team, right situation. I would never commit myself to every year, but if we could get into that kind of rhythm, that would be terrific. Clearly the acceptance level of this game is beyond anything we've seen."
The Wolverines are anticipating a record crowd Saturday at the 109,901-seat stadium. They set the attendance mark in last year's season opener against Connecticut with 113,090. Brandon said demand for tickets for this game are at an all-time high, which colleague Pat Forde echoes in his latest Forde-Yard Dash today.
"We could easily sell another 25,000 or 50,000 tickets to this game," Brandon said. "The supply-and-demand model is getting blown up here."
The interest level is understandable, given that it's a historic occasion. Would Michigan fans want more night games after this? My guess is yes. Night games have become the norm in college football for marquee names, and fans have lots more time to tailgate than they do for noon or even 3:30 p.m. kickoffs. A key question this week will be fan behavior with all that extra time for tailgating and how orderly the procession in and out of the stadium proceeds.
But Brandon is a forward thinker, so more night games in the Big House seems inevitable. Just maybe not the biggest of games. Brandon already dismissed the idea of a Michigan-Michigan State night game and says there's no chance that the Ohio State game will be held under the lights when it comes to Ann Arbor.
"It's totally out of the question," Brandon said.
Then again, any night game at Michigan Stadium seemed implausible until very recently.