By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published July 30, 2012
Students balking at ticket and airfare prices for the Michigan football team's season opener against defending-national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas have another option.
The Center for Campus Involvement will host a viewing party for the season opener at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1 as part of its Welcome to Michigan program. The event will feature the game displayed on the videoboards, activities on the field and tours of the stadium. It will run from 6-11:30 p.m. and will be open to all students, with a valid Mcard needed for entry.
'Go Blue at the Big House', as the event is being referred to, was birthed over a year ago when CCI administrators realized that there wouldn't be a home football game to be the cornerstone of Welcome Week activities, as is typically the case.
"We recognized we needed to do something significant around the football game so Michigan students could have a similar experience," said Nick Smith, assistant director of CCI and a co-chair of the Welcome to Michigan committee. "Honestly, I had no preconceived notions about what the response was going to be, I just knew that was our vision for the event we wanted to do."
The Athletic Department was receptive to the idea and helped move it along, according to Smith.
The viewing party will be proceeded by a North Campus Block Party held on the North Campus Diag from noon-5 p.m., featuring live entertainment, free food and activities, including a portable zip-line. Smith said the organization is hoping for 1,000 students at the North Campus event and 8,000 at Michigan Stadium for the nightcap.
"We could certainly go beyond that. There's no limit — the Big House is huge," Smith said. "And from what I hear through the grapevine, students are really excited for it."
Students will enter through the Michigan Stadium tunnel and onto the turf. The evening will begin with photo opportunities on the field and a stage equipped with a sound system. At 7 p.m., CCI will host a pep rally at midfield, replacing the 'Maize Craze' event typically held on Friday of Welcome Week.
A caveat of full access to the stadium, Smith said, was that food and drink are not allowed on the field. The concourse will be open with food stands and students can roam the stands with dinner in hand. CCI plans to provide press box and VIP seating tours, as well.
Smith admitted that the new videoboards, which were installed last year, made the event more plausible than in years past.
"Certainly the new video boards give us an advantage," Smith said. "It gives us an opportunity not only to showcase the game but to put up some promotional videos that Athletics has and some of our campus partners as well."
CCI is also considering the possibility of running live video feeds between the Go Blue at the Big House event and other Michigan viewing parties, like the Alumni Association's gathering in Dallas.