Students came to the University of Michigan earlier this month already excited for Oct. 7’s home football game against Michigan State University. But the buzz really picked up Monday morning when it was officially announced the game would have a 7:30 p.m. kickoff time, officially making it an “under the lights” game.
This is the first time Michigan has hosted a night game since 2014. There have only been three others in the Big House — one in 2011, one in 2013 and one in 2014. The Big 10’s new contract with TV networks gives control of game start times to the networks, rather than the schools involved. Before this change, the Michigan-MSU game was seen as immovable from its traditional afternoon start time.
Fans don’t seem to be upset about the change, though.
Engineering junior Rachel Fenberg said she was thrilled to find out it would be a night game, especially because the rest of her family are Michigan State fans.
“I’m very excited for the night game,” she said. “I grew up a State fan, so this was always a big game for me, with my family rivalry. And I’ve never been to a night game before, and I’m just very excited for the atmosphere.”
Although people are excited, many safety concerns surround the game. However, athletic director Warde Manuel told The Detroit News he’s confident in the University’s ability to host a safe night game.
“I think it’s different (than a day game) from the standpoint of increased staffing levels we need to have for the safety and fan experience of getting around,” Manuel said in August. “We add additional lighting to our parking lots. … Obviously, the police forces, but the University, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, the state of Michigan are in increased vigilance.”
There are other safety concerns besides the darkness and raucous fans, though.
“The longer people have to tailgate, you see more issues around alcohol and issues related to that, so that also is a concern,” Manuel said.
Fenberg agreed, saying she thinks her fellow students might get carried away in excitement.
“I think there will be more people who overdo it tailgating, because they’re probably going to start so much earlier than they’re used to,” Fenberg said. “Most students have never done it before and they won’t have a routine. But hopefully, things will go well.”
An additional concern affects many fans and students alike who are gearing up to go, but know it’ll come at a steep price. Twitter user LG posted a photo of his StubHub receipt for two tickets to the game. The total was $505.20.
Nov. 4’s Minnesota game was also rumored to be “under the lights,” but the networks can wait until 12 days before the game to decide on a kickoff time, so fans will be left speculating for a while.
“We’ll have to see how MSU goes,” Fenberg said. “But I think it would be really fun to have another (night game) if it’s not freezing out by then.”