Even though football season has ended, lights still shine in the Big House.
Michigan Stadium keeps lights on in the stairwells and club seating areas throughout the year. While the practice brings up an environmental concern and question of funding, the practice is required for security reasons, according to University Athletic Department spokesman David Ablauf.
It’s stadium protocol to keep the stadium lights on overnight for “safety and security purposes,” he said.
“(Yesterday) for example, when I came by at seven o’clock, there (weren’t) any lights on at the stadium other than those that were required by code to be on,” Ablauf said.
However, not all lights are left on for security purposes. As Ablauf explained, blue lights that can be seen from a distance are turned on at night for “aesthetic reasons.”
In addition, lights are sometimes kept on during the day for special events, Ablauf said. Among recent events that required lights were the introduction of new head football coach Brady Hoke and the University’s Hall of Honor induction ceremony last week. Groups not affiliated with the University can also pay to use the stadium for events like corporate meetings, Ablauf said.
The lighting doesn’t cost the University any money since the expense of Big House lights is covered by a separate athletic maintenance fund, according to Ablauf.
During the football season, stadium lights were kept on all day for the catering and maintenance personnel who service the facility.
Additionally, a permanent lighting system for the field was installed before The Big Chill at the Big House hockey game, which was held on Dec. 11.
The University’s Board of Regents unanimously approved the $1.8 million installation at its meeting in September.
“The addition of permanent lights will improve the quality of viewing experience for our fans,” Athletic Director David Brandon wrote in a press release at the time.
The first night game will take place on Sept. 10, 2011 against Notre Dame.
Ablauf said these new lights are currently used on basketball game days to help guide spectators to Crisler Arena.
Raymond De Young, an associate professor of conservation behavior at the University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, said while the nighttime lighting has a minimal impact on the environment, he’s curious to see if the University addresses the issue from an environmental standpoint.
“If it’s brought up to their attention, this is a nice sort of mini-test of how serious they take (environmental issues),” De Young said.
According to Ablauf, the Athletic Department is conscientious of environmental concerns.
“We put an emphasis on trying to conserve some energy,” Ablauf said.