It takes time to develop an empire. Michigan coach Steve Burns anticipates that his empire will begin to thrive immediately after being implemented.

Tonight, under the glow of the soccer stadium’s radiant new lights, the Michigan men’s soccer team will unveil its new student section, The M-Pire, at the first annual Michigan Invitational. The Wolverines will kickoff against Louisville (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. in hopes of making its commemorative game under the lights an auspicious one.

“The atmosphere at our games is just way too polite and dull,” Burns said. “We need that student energy to create a home field advantage. We’ve built a family base, but we haven’t done a good job at bringing the students in. We’re making a real concerted effort to try and create this cheering section that’s similar to Yost — but without the vulgarities.”

During key situations, Burns already pushes his bench players to stand and offer words of encouragement to the teammates on the field in order to get them more fired up during play action. With the addition of the student section, Burns is hopeful that the students will take on the bulk of that responsibility. His goal for the section is for it to become similar to The M-Zone for the volleyball team and the Maize Rage for and basketball.

“Hopefully we can get the fans to help get under our opponents skin and get more of a home-field advantage like in Crisler or the Big House,” Burns said. “We want to organize cheers throughout the student section and get our players more up for big plays.”

Burns plan to have a student section added to the stadium came with the arrival of the new lighting system this summer. The Wolverines have had a tough time getting fans to come out to the games during the day due to time conflicts. The program is confident that more fans will come out for night games.

“It’ll be nice to have more fans come out because we got the lights,” forward Bobby Trybula said. “Since we have night games, more people can come out to watch because the games won’t be during class times.”

The actual addition of the stadium’s lights came in early August, but its legacy has to be credited to the senior class members of 2003 who appealed to the athletic administration in hopes of improving their home field.

“Those guys put together a presentation to show that, if we were to charge for games, when the break-even point would happen (where we could) pay for lights in the stadium,” Burns said. “Planting those seeds helped our administration recognize that we do have a viable product to have a nighttime environment that kids can come out and watch.”

The new lighting system, the Musco Light Structure Green, has four poles that are lit to 70-foot candles. Considered the top-grade lighting product on the market, the lights will create a new feel for the stadium.

“I like the lights a lot,” Trybula said. “I’m so appreciative of being able to get them on the field. There’s definitely something special about being able to play under lights at night.”

Burns didn’t fully anticipate the addition of the lights this season, so he didn’t schedule as many night games as he would have liked. But he is planning on making changes for the 2006 season to take advantage of the power of the lights.

“There is definitely something magical about playing under the lights,” Burns said. “It’s a new energy that will hopefully have an affect on the team and give us that true home-field advantage that we’ve been lacking.”

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