On Sept. 7, I may have had one of the best — and worst — experiences at Michigan Stadium. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt the energy in Ann Arbor as much as I did on Saturday leading up to the night game against the University of Notre Dame. I expected the school spirit, excitement and pride from students and fans that contributed to the amazing atmosphere that permeated the entire game.
I definitely did not expect the complete apathy, rudeness and general poor customer service that I experienced from the event staff.
Because of the new general-admission policy, my friends and I decided it’d be a good idea to get to the game early, as the policy is intended to promote. Arriving around 5:30 p.m., there were still some wristbands left that allow admission to the lower sections, but not many. Before going into the “O” queue, one of the workers told my group to split up to go into two different gates so we could all sit in the lower bowl.
But for whatever reason, the wristbands were miscounted. My friend and I were then separated from our group. At first we were told to sit behind them in the same section. While this wasn’t ideal, we were willing to do it. But as we were walking toward the section, we realized that they were in section 31 and we were in 29. Feeling very frustrated, I headed back to the ticket area and talked to an event staff member and explained my plight, saying that I understand that this mix up was nobody’s fault, but that I was hoping to be able to exchange my section for 31. I was met with a rude, uncaring attitude and was told that this new policy is just something “I need to adjust to.”
After exchanging my own story with other friends, I found out that I wasn’t the only student to have a subpar experience. One of my best friends camped out the night before and was first in line. Yet, waiting 22 hours only led to him being in the third row, as he was essentially trampled as everyone ran to the front. Another friend witnessed the row in front of her be overbooked — only to be met with the event staff having no idea how to fix the issue and doing nothing about it.
If this general-admission policy is going to hold up, employees of Michigan Stadium need to be trained in how to deal with potential ticketing and seating issues. They should also be more empathetic to the students. Just because we’re students doesn’t mean that we don’t a right to fair treatment at these events. We’re paying customers who, incidentally, have the highest ticket cost of all of the Big 10 universities. We should receive the excellent customer service I know the University strives to provide, even if we are “just” students. Instead of being treated with dignity, we were herded like cattle into the stadium — packing us in so tightly to make the student section look great on television.
The game itself was amazing. It was probably the best crowd I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ll never forget the chills I had as we sang “The Victors” after the win. However, I’ll also never forget the terrible treatment I experienced prior to the game.
I understand that there are more than 100,000 fans in the stadium at a time and that some of these problems are no one’s fault and will have to be worked out with time. There were many event staff employees that were very understanding and kind, and I appreciate their attitudes. But as Head football coach Brady Hoke said, “This is Michigan for God’s sakes.” Is it possible that other Big 10 schools, including Ohio State University, have much more functional and logical general-admissions policies?
For now, I, along with many other Wolverines, am not impressed with general admission thus far. Hopefully, the Athletic Department will learn from its mistakes and restructure the policy for upcoming games and seasons.
Alexa Cinque is an LSA sophomore.