This week writing about some of our favorite stadiums, and we’re starting out with the largest college football stadium of them all, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, known unofficially as, “The Big House.”
LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING –
Even though it holds more fans than any other stadium, from the outside, the Big House, doesn’t look that big. And before 2011, when luxury boxes and club seats were added, it actually looked small. The playing field and most of the seats in the Big House are located below ground level, the stadium was kind of dug out of the ground. The stadium is a lot lower, because there is no upper deck, it has only one seating bowl, so while stands are expansive, there is no higher level. The 2011 additions that added boxes and club seats also raised the stadium height on the sidelines, but they are set at the back of the seating bowl, so the feel from the field is not as vertical as some other stadiums, such as Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
BUILT TO BE HUGE
The Big House opened in 1927 with a capacity of 72,000 fans, but before the first game, wooden bleachers were added to the top of the stadium, increasing capacity to 82,000. The force behind the stadium, legendary Michigan coach, professor and athletic director Fielding Yost, envisioned the stadium being expanded to 150,000 fans someday. With an official capacity currently of 109,901 it is currently the third largest stadium in the world.
The Big House earned that name because it actually is very big, and has continually set records for the largest crowd to watch a football game in the modern era, most recently last September when more than 115,000 fans watched the Wolverines defeat Notre Dame. The Big House has also hosted hockey games, holding the record for both college and professional hockey attendance, with crowds of more than 100,000 for each. One of the highlights of of being one of more than 100,000 fans attending a game at Michigan Stadium is hearing more than 100,000 fans sing the Michigan Fight Song in unison — it’s loud and it’s cool.
SEATING AND ATMOSPHERE
You have to squeeze people in to get 115,000 into a stadium, and it’s no different in Ann Arbor. Having sat in several places in the stadium, I can say that this is the tightest seating I’ve ever sat in, most notably in the corners. Once you are seated, you are not getting up, but everyone is in the same boat. Seats are bleacher style without seatbacks, unless you are sitting in the club section in one of the recent additions. You’ll notice that our pictures are of the fans, not the stadium, because that is what we remember about the Big House. It is fun, the Michigan band is outstanding, and as the crowd says, “Let’s Go Blue.”
We expect Mike to visit Michigan this fall for a Gameday at Ann Arbor feature. If there’s anything you think he must see and share, send us a note and we’ll have him check it out.