After the football team’s upset loss Saturday, more than 100,000 fans walked away from Michigan Stadium with their hopes for a national championship completely destroyed.
But many of them managed to leave something behind – trash.
So who’s stuck cleaning up the mess in and around the nation’s largest football stadium after each game?
High school students and their parents. Anywhere from 150 to 250 high schoolers and parents clean up after the Maize and Blue-clad fans after each game, said Chris Ehman, the facilities supervisor at Michigan Stadium.
The University has contracted for more than 20 years with Ann Arbor’s Fr. Gabriel Richard High School, and students from the school make their way down to the Big House every Sunday after a home game at 7 a.m. to pick up trash, Ehman said.
As part of the deal, the University pays the high school around $50,000 a year, which the school, in turn, uses to fund its athletic programs.
The high school requires each of its student-athletes sweep down the stairwells of each of the stadium’s 44 sections when cleaning day rolls around, Ehman said.
The local Boy Scouts also help in the process, cleaning up whatever garbage tailgaters leave behind in the parking lot.
But Ehman says their job is a bit easier.
“Believe it or not, the tailgaters actually do a pretty good job of cleaning up after themselves,” Ehman said.
Members of Ehman’s maintenance staff and employees from the athletic department also pitch in, picking up whatever litter football spectators leave.
Everyone’s workload becomes heavier after the bigger games.
According to 2006 statistics provided by Waste Management Services, fans littered most during the Michigan State and Wisconsin games. With more than 111,000 fans attending each contest, those two games were the most attended last season.
The statistics show that fans left an average of just over 17 tons of recyclable waste at each game.
Altogether, the tidying process takes about five hours and goes until noon.
“That’s why it’s nice to have so many bodies,” Ehman said. “We actually get the cleaning done in a timely manner.”
– Chris Herring