The first football game of the season may not have been played in Michigan Stadium, but the Center for Campus Involvement ensured that students had the change to experience the game from the Big House even though Michigan was taking on Alabama in Texas.
About 8,500 students trekked to the Big House Saturday night to watch Alabama throttle the Wolverines, 41-14, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Titled ‘Go Blue at the Big House’, the event included a pep rally, games, activities and free food as students watched the game from the stadium videoboards.
Students could only be admitted to the Big House with a valid MCard, and were then ushered through the Michigan Stadium tunnel and onto the 50-yard line, where the festivities kicked off with games and giveaways, live music and photo opportunities with Michigan athletes.
The festivities weren’t restricted to the Big House, as North Campus hosted a block party from noon to 5 p.m., where about 3,500 students enjoyed live music, free food, a host of games and activities and a portable zip-line. Students could also paint signs and posters to take to the stadium.
Mary Beth Seiler, director of Greek Life at the University, said the event was a great way for students to start the year.
“I don’t think they had any idea how many (students) would show up,” Seiler said. “But it’s a great turn out, beautiful weather and a great way to see the game.”
Roger Simpson, vice president of operations for Huron Valley Ambulance, said that though alcohol is typically a concern at football games, Saturday’s event went off without a hitch.
“Things have run smooth as a well-oiled watch,” Simpson said.
Doors opened at 6 p.m. before the pep rally led by men’s basketball coach John Beilein at 7 p.m., during which Michigan Olympic athletes were honored for their performances in London last month.
Students were then ushered to seats where they watched the team play in the Cowboys Classic on the new videoboards, while activities and games continued on the field.
LSA freshman Jason Rozbruch said the event was a great way to meet new people.
“As a freshman, it’s only my third day here but it’s nice that this event is reuniting all of the Michigan students,” Rozbruch said. “I’m having a good time so far.”
Engineering graduate student Abhijith Kini said he attended to experience the atmosphere in the stadium.
“Even for a game not at home, so many people are here, so I don’t think any other school could have this,” Kini said.
Deb Mexicotte, assistant director of the Office of New Student Programs, said that the block party on North Campus was a success.
“It’s always a challenge when you put on something of this scale, and this is an event we haven’t done before,” Mexicotte said. “I think that this event will be a great template for looking at music festivals and the way that we can do them at this campus in the future.”
Engineering freshman Shwetha Hariharan said she attended to try-out the zipline, but engaged in the other events as well.
“I think this is a good idea, people meeting other people and making new friends,” Hariharan said.
Correction Appended: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story stated the incorrect final score of the football game.