Big ups to the Big House. Seriously. That first game under the lights was A-freaking-mazing (forgive me for being a week late). I’ve never felt energy like that in Michigan Stadium ever before and know I’ll never forget it. I was lucky enough to be one of the 114,804 people in the stadium and couldn’t have been happier to see my Wolvies pull out an impressive last-minute, nail-biting victory over God’s Team (Notre Dame). ND may have given away the game, but heck if I care! Those final three minutes were three of the finest I have ever seen in the Big House because the roar of the fans was incredible, the maize pompoms being shaken in time with the newly added non-band music created a ridiculously cool aesthetic and the players were obviously being juiced by the palpable enthusiasm of the predominantly U-M hooligans. Like I said: A-freaking-mazing.
The 3-year construction project of a beautiful new bricked exterior (think sweeping bricked arches, not flimsy looking navy blue metal surrounding the uppermost row), a gorgeous new press box, two HUGE scoreboards (advertisement free, thankyouverymuch) and luxury boxes (amongst many other improvements) turned the stadium not only into a more modern-era stadium, rather than a humongous pit in the ground, but a stadium that now holds in noise and gives the Big House the yell-to-your-next-door-neighbor level of sound that it rightfully deserves with its ridiculous capacity. I heard from those watching on TV that without even having to be at the game, you could notice a significant rise in stadium noise, which delights me because I swear we were shaking from the sound in our far too narrow seats after each great play. Awesomeness personified.
Another great thing was the gigapixel photo that was taken before kickoff. It’s 360 degrees of the big house and the photo is so clear that you can actually zoom in on people’s faces and, if you weren’t held up getting into your section before the game, find yourself. Sadly, I wasn’t in my seat at the point of the picture, but I did run into Spink’s dad and sister. Gotta love going to games– you’ll inevitably run into at least 5 people you know amidst the crowd of oldies, athletes, Walmart Wolverines, children and workers.
While I’m not a fan of putting the kibosh on enthusiasm, I do have a minor issue with the stadium, rather those who control the music in the stadium. OK, while you know I’m a pretty enthusiastic Journey fan (an actual fan who’s aware of more than one of Journey’s gems), many others fancy themselves as such, too, which gets a little annoying when the only Journey song that gets played is, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” I mean, I’m on board with the message when the players need a little encouragement, which, after the first two quarters of play may have been the case, but I’ll tell you right now that after only 10 minutes, I certainly had NOT stopped believing and I am insulted that such a thing was insinuated. Let’s save the rally song for a time when we all needed a boost, not when we all just feel the need to have a socially acceptable reason to belt songs out at the top of our lungs.
Side note: I liken this issue of improper motivation to that of the Scottsdale Community College’s football goal post pads, which proclaim “Chokes” for all to see (SCC’s mascot is a fighting artichoke. Yes, seriously.) One might think this is a great idea that might psyche out the competition, but one must realize that the home team is staring at those very goals posts, so likely the double entendre goes unappreciated. Unintentional insults at their finest.
Basically, I’m super enthusiastic about the whole concept of night games becoming a fixture at the Big House, though I realize the U-M v. ND game’s energy may not be replicated until the Wolverines are in a position to beat that school in Ohio, so it begs the question, “Why the delay on the lights after all these years?” It insured not only loud and liquored up student (and adult) fans, due to massive amounts of day drinking and tailgating, but unprecedented enthusiasm from all alumni and fans for our storied football program.
The day actually didn’t start out too promising because of severe weather, which meant that every tailgate that was to be set up on the golf course had to find a new location as they closed them in an effort to minimize damage to the fairways. However, as one would expect the Parkers and Co. to do, we immediately scouted a new location and found ourselves only two blocks from the stadium and within 25 feet of a Portajohn. Pretty impressive for such short turn around.
Allow me to share with you some pictures from the big day, including some from the impromptu tailgate. As always, forever GO BLUE!