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Michigan Stadium

Ann Arbor, MI

Home of the Michigan Wolverines

4.6

4.0

Michigan Stadium (map it)
1201 S Main St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Michigan Wolverines website

Michigan Stadium website

Year Opened: 1927

Capacity: 109,901

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Big House

Mention the term “The Big House” and just about anyone that’s ever watched a college football game will know the reference. The third largest stadium in the world and the largest stadium in the US, Michigan Stadium was constructed in 1927 at the insistence of legendary Michigan coach Fielding Yost. It originally seated 72,000, but was quickly updated to seat over 85,000. Renovations over the years have gradually boosted capacity until 2010 when it reached 109,901, its current capacity. On September 7, 2013 against Notre Dame the stadium hosted a record capacity of 115,109.

Michigan football is one of the (if not the) most storied programs in the history of college football. Coaching legends such as Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler, Lloyd Carr and the great Bo Schembechler have walked the sidelines. Great players such as Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson have awed the massive crowds. The program has won more games than any other college football program in any division by a margin making up several seasons worth of games. “Hail To The Victors” is among the most recognizable fight songs in all of football and the famous winged helmets are immediately recognizable to even the most casual sports fan.

All of this is to say that the Big House and a Michigan football game should sit squarely on even the shortest list of must see venues for any sports fan. Despite their recent struggles, the awesomeness of a Saturday in Ann Arbor is a must for avid stadium travelers.

4.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

Feeding 110,000 fans is quite the undertaking, but Michigan Stadium manages to make it happen. The stadium's standard concessions are served by major concessions company Sodexo and consist of fairly normal stadium fare. Hot dogs, personal pizzas, popcorn (popped maize) and kettle korn are some of the main options for quick dining. Most items run from $5 to $10 (Chicken tenders basket for $10, burgers and sandwiches for $10) and drinks fall in the same range. For $10 you can get any drink in a large Wolverine souvenir mug. Sodexo offers close to 100 stands around the stadium to distribute all this food, so it's fairly easy to get back to your seat despite the crowds.

Your other options around the stadium include Red Rock Barbeque, Damon's Grill, Super Pretzel, Fresh Roasted Almonds, Carvel Ice Cream and much more. Overall, there are plenty of food options around the stadium. While nothing is truly elite, there's certainly enough variety to rate highly.

As a side note, there is no alcohol served in Michigan Stadium and you are not able to bring any outside food or drink into the stadium. But don't worry, there is plenty of food and drink outside the stadium to enjoy.

Atmosphere    5

Could this be rated any less than this? We're talking about the Big House during an autumn day in Ann Arbor. There's over 100,000 fans clad in maize and blue cheering for the Wolverines. Those words alone make this a 5 star experience.

The stadium is a simple bowl design, just on a grand scale. It's sunken into the ground, so upon approach you won't see the stadium rising above the town. But upon walking through the Michigan Stadium gates and into the bowl, the scale begins to take shape. Let's be fair, I've been in bigger stadiums by size alone. But the completeness of the bowl along with the smaller seat sizes explains the capacity. The one knock on the stadium is that you're going to be close to your neighbors. And if you have a seat in the middle of a row, you're going to find that it's a long way out through tight quarters to get to the aisles. But once the band starts, all of this might as well be forgotten.

When "Hail To The Victors" rises from the band, you're guaranteed to get chills. You're hearing one of the most iconic fight songs in all of college athletics. The 110,000 in attendance quickly take up the chorus and waive the yellow pom-poms that make the stadium look like a sea of maize. It's an impressive sight for any college football fan. The stadium stays mostly loud the whole game (although in 2014 a lot of the commentary is lamenting the Brady Hoke regime). The stadium itself is a classic brick structure in a sunken bowl design that provides excellent acoustics for the volume. Even with the product on the field not being up to the lofty Michigan standards, the experience is still stellar.

The last mentionable here is clearly the excellent Michigan band. On the occasion of my visit they turned the lights down at halftime and provided a spectacular light show to go with their performance. But throughout the game they are loud and provide consistent energy to the small city of Wolverine fans around them.

Neighborhood    5

When you watch movies set in quaint college towns across America, you're defining Ann Arbor in the fall. Leaves changing colors, quaint Main Street USA roads lined by classic small town businesses and the classic maize "M" everywhere are some of the sights to expect around town. Closer to the stadium, frat houses setting up for pre-game parties line the roads into campus. I'd strongly recommend getting up early and strolling the streets of Ann Arbor before heading to the tailgate, it really adds to the overall experience.

Speaking of tailgating, the best experience is clearly in the University of Michigan golf course. It'll run you between $40-$50 to get in, but there's nothing quite like tailgating on the rolling fairways of the golf course just across the street from the stadium. Other lots can be found all around the stadium, and some are considerably cheaper, but for someone going to Ann Arbor for the first time I'd strongly recommend the golf course to get the full experience. One disclosure, get there early as the spots fill up fast.

Hotel accommodations can be found clustered near I-94 just to the south of the stadium, but expect to pay a hefty sum to stay here. If you're flying in, the Detroit airport is about 20 miles to the east along I-94 and there are plenty of hotels there for a much better rate. In terms of food options, Ann Arbor is full of local places to eat worth trying. Zingerman's is a favorite spot and is featured on ESPN as the local place to go, but places like the Blue Tractor and Arbor Brewing Company provide excellent options as well.

If you like Italian food, then Gratzi and Mani Osteria are both great places to go, especially if you want something a little more upscale. Frita Batidos serves up tasty Cuban-inspired food.

The Blue Nile serves up Ethiopian food which is both unique and delicious. Zingerman's is a foodie paradise, and would be a perfect early morning stop if you want to get supplies for a gourmet tailgating party.

Kids will love the Ann Arbor Children's Museum. There are several other great spots. If you're not a regular in town, and don't want to tailgate, then go downtown and explore a bit.

Fans    5

There's not a whole lot you can say negatively about Michigan fans (unless you happen to be a Buckeye), so enjoy the small town friendliness in college football's largest setting. The fans are generally pretty friendly and willing to chat or even just invite you over to their tailgate (this happened to me on at least two occasions). Despite the struggles of their team recently, the stadium will be packed full and as loud as ever. The maize and blue clad masses waive pom-poms and cheer at the top of their lungs all day long. The only potential knock is likely temporary. Negativity swirls around the stands and tailgate due to the displeasure with the current coaching situation and team performance, so I can only imagine how exciting tailgate would be in happier times.

Access    3

All in all, this is better than you'd expect considering the 110,000+ that cram their way into this small town on a fall Saturday. The Detroit airport is a straight shot up I-94 to Detroit and the stadium is a 20-30 minute brisk walk from the Ann Arbor hotels on the interstate. Traffic is not bad, at least compared to what you'd expect for the volume of people. I'd still advise arriving early to beat the rush, because this many cars heading in the same direction can obviously get pretty bad. The stadium is pretty centrally located for all of the tailgating spots, so you shouldn't have to walk more than 10 minutes or so depending on where you park. Prices for parking range from $10 up to around $40/$50, which is pretty standard for your larger college venues.

If you're not tailgating,then one recommendation for parking is to park along Pauline. Around two hours before kickoff there is free street parking available at around 1100 Pauline (about 0.7 miles from the stadium). Soon after, you'll find residents who open up their driveways or front lawns for a cost of $15-$25 for "EZ Out" parking. The closer to the stadium of course the more you will pay. If you can manage the walk, then bring some comfortable shoes and save some money by strolling a bit.

The gates in get pretty clogged, so don't try to arrive just before kickoff. You'll find yourself in a considerable line to get in. Once inside, expect crowds everywhere. Concessions, concourses, aisles and especially seating will be particularly crowded. Keep this in mind as you plan your restroom or food breaks, because you'll likely miss some action and have to shimmy through crowded aisles.

Return on Investment    5

At any price, this is 5 stars. Tickets for big games may run you $100 or more with other games decreasing from there on a sliding scale. But if you've never been to the Big House, this should be irrelevant. This is one of the few stadiums that are mandatory whatever the price for any football fan. Parking and food pricing are pretty much in line with what you'd expect, so other than the ticket you're paying average prices for an elite experience.

Extras    5

Just pick anything. There are so many things to award points for here that it's almost pointless counting. Whether it's tailgating on the UM Golf Course, rising in chorus to "Hail To The Victors," marching through the brick gates into one of the most storied stadiums in college football or the team running from the tunnel and jumping to touch the "Go Blue" banner, there's something spectacular around every corner. The Big House is on the short list of top treasures in college football.

An extra mark for Michigan having a US President (Gerald Ford) in their group of Legends.

An extra mark for the Michigan Marching Band, which is worth the show all by itself.

An extra mark for over 130 years of Michigan football tradition. The fact that Michigan has the most wins in the history of college football, and is also an 11-time National Champion, just adds to the ambiance of the home venue. You can't help but appreciate the history as you walk the concourse and see the tributes to the championship teams outside sections 20-26, or the great player tributes outside sections 1-5.

Parking fo the Big House

All unreserved lots for tailgating are ID'ed in the GameDay Parking - Ann Arbor app for iPhone. More info at www.gamedayparkingapps.com.

by GameDay Parking | Sep 02, 2012 07:44 PM

Pulled Pork Sandwich

That pulled port sandwich looks like enough of a reason to visit.

by conradklank | Oct 18, 2012 04:24 PM

Legendary

What is it about Michigan Stadium ? .... Perhaps it is a former President of the United States as a "Michigan Football Legend"

by | Oct 18, 2012 08:16 PM

Yep

I can't help it, but my butt really itches

by rit01818 | Sep 29, 2013 01:56 PM

Never again --- ugh.

After sitting through perhaps a dozen games in various spots in Michigan Stadium, I have decided to never return. I have not experienced a stadium that is less comfortable ... I am tall (6'2") so it is even worse for me. I have to have a stranger's head between my knees the whole game. I am the last one to sit down in my row, my seat will be gone. It is miserably uncomfortable unless you are tiny.

Add to that the thrill of being stuck in gridlock after each game fir several hours before you can get home, and watching on TV looks pretty good to me. I know the place is huge, but I go to other huge stadiums and these problems are nowhere near as bad.

A suggestion: if you do go, just park in downtown Ann Arbor is one of the Structures. it only costs $5. It is over a mile walk to the Stadium, but you'll have plenty of company - just dress for the weather. Never park on the golf course unless you want to be stuck in gridlock.

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Crowd Reviews

The Big House

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Engulfed in a sea of maize and blue, you sit amongst 110,000 delighted football fans. Welcome to "The Big House," the home of Michigan Wolverines football since 1927. The tradition of hailing to the victors dates back to 1901 when the University of Michigan won its first of 11 National Championships. Only Alabama can claim to have more college football championships of the current FBS teams.

Over the years, the University of Michigan has worked to expand Michigan Stadium and maintain its claim as the largest capacity in college football. Renovations in 2008 and 2010 have grown the official capacity to 109,901. You may be surprised that rather than producing an overwhelming experience, the magnitude and sheer size still result in a comfortable and energetic environment.

The large new press box, completed in 2010, helps to maintain some of the crowd noise, while also providing room for several luxury boxes, and a great working environment for the media. Michigan Stadium has never been known as one of those earth-shaking venues like LSU's Tiger Stadium or Texas A&M's Kyle Field, but it certainly can pack its own noisy wallop.

UMich @ night rocked

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

if you can catch a game under the lights...do it.

great atmosphere at night/against relevent team but if UM is playing Western Michigan or Toledo...its not the best (very quite, very boring).

Night game vs ND was amazing. Even the 50-70 year old subway alums got up and cheered!

Love to watch games here

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

I suppose that this being my alma mater I am a bit partial. But I love watching games here! As a student it cannot be beat watching a good game with so many other fans that bring as much energy and excitement that I have ever seen in a single place. There isn't too much right around the stadium, but on a crisp fall day it is an easy walk from campus and downtown ann arbor with the mobs of other fans ready for cheering on the wolverines. Go Blue!

Great Tips

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

Thanks for the nice review. Lots of great tips turned into a great trip. Visited a few of the recommended restaurants and took advantage of the E-Z Out parking, which turned out to be a perfect tip.

Thanks for the help!

Leaders and Best

Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

What is it about Michigan Wolverines football? It may be those famous winged helmets, a signature of the program since 1938. Maybe it’s the tradition, with 11 National Championships (second only to Alabama with 14). Maybe it’s just being a part of the largest college football crowd in the world.

Whatever it is, there is little doubt that a visit to Michigan Stadium, “the Big House,” is a must-see for any fan of college football. Recent renovations have increased the total capacity to 109,901 (although more than 114,000 is the record attendance). Even with that gaudy attendance potential, the stadium doesn’t feel as big as you might imagine. The single bowl design gives you the impression that you are in a much more accessible venue, and your view of the field will be outstanding, even from the back row.

A crisp autumn afternoon, surrounded by a sea of maize and blue while you hear the Michigan marching band blast out “Hail to the Victors” is without a doubt, one of the best college football experiences in the country.

Michigan Stadium's Awesome

Total Score: 5.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

If you've not been to Michigan Stadium(AKA the big house), you should next season(2013). I used to work there from 2008-2011. for 2012, I only attended the home opener against Air Force, We won that one. I love the food and atmosphere. In fact, from our house(in the backyard), we can faintly hear the roar and PA Announcer Carl Grapentine, but it's muffled. The metal bleachers are not that great, but that doesn't stop me from having a great time. What really blew me away the first time I saw them was the 2 MONSTEROUS High definition scoreboards. They are 87X45, that's big. You can't miss a replay or game information on those babies. So cheer on the Maize and Blue and get out to Michigan Stadium this season(2013)

The Big House

Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

Never a dull moment. Nothing beats a Football Saturday in AA.

Nothing but fun

Total Score: 4.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Witnessed Michigan taking on Michigan State and had an amazing time!

This is Michigan ... For God's Sake!

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

When questioned about whether he still considered Michigan an elite program, the newly crowned head football coach uttered the now infamous six words "This is Michigan for God's Sake!" It has since become a rallying cry among the Wolverine faithful, and it is undeniable that Michigan remains one of the best supported football programs in the country.

Michigan boasts a pedigree that is matched by few. To be an elite player at Michigan, is to be truly elite. There are only eight Wolverines who have reached Michigan Legend status, and New England Patriots golden boy Tom Brady (a former Wolverine) is not among them. Whitey, Al and Alvin Wistert, Bennie Oosterbaan, Ron Kramer, Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard and former President of the United States Gerald Ford have reached Legend status.

Central to the mystique of the Wolverines is The Big House. Michigan Stadium has been home to Wolverines football for nearly 90 years and is currently the largest stadium in the NCAA. Affectionately known as The Big House, Michigan Stadium currently holds attendance records for most fans at a hockey game and a football game. The rivalry with Ohio State is legendary, and as good as any rivalry in sport. Michigan football should be on every Stadium Journeyist's bucket list simply because it IS the Big House, and this IS Michigan, for God's sake!

Tiny seats with no legroom

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

I am convinced - Michigan Stadium must have been designed for little people. There is no way anyone can be comfortable in 8 inches of bench space with their knees around a stranger's head. Ugh.

A day in A2

Total Score: 2.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 1
  • Extras: 3

Kinda boring for >100k people, tough to move around, packed and stacked but fun if you can catch a night, worth it.

A day in A2

Total Score: 2.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 1
  • Extras: 3

Kinda boring for >100k people, tough to move around, packed and stacked but fun if you can catch a night, worth it.

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Local Food & Drink

Ashley's  (map it!)

338 South State St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 996-9191

http://www.ashleys.com/

Arbor Brewing Company  (map it!)

114 East Washington St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 213-1393

http://www.arborbrewing.com/

Grizzly Peak Brewing Company  (map it!)

120 W Washington St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 741-7325

http://www.grizzlypeak.net/

Blue Tractor  (map it!)

205 E Washington St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 222-4095

http://www.bluetractor.net/bta/annarbor/Default.htm

The Jolly Pumpkin  (map it!)

311 S Main St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 913-2730

http://www.jollypumpkin.com/

Gratzi  (map it!)

326 S Main St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(888) 456-3463

http://gratzirestaurant.com/

Blue Nile  (map it!)

221 E Washington St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 998-4746

http://www.bluenilemi.com/

Frita Batidos  (map it!)

117 W Washington St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 761-2882

http://fritabatidos.com/

Cupcake Station  (map it!)

116 E Liberty St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 222-1801

http://www.cupcakestation.com/

Zingerman's Deli  (map it!)

422 Detroit St

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

(734) 663-3354

http://www.zingermansdeli.com/

Bagger Dave's  (map it!)

859 W Eisenhower Pkwy

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

(734) 994-3283

http://baggerdaves.com/

Conor O'Neill's  (map it!)

318 S Main St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 665-2968

http://www.conoroneills.com/annarbor/

Local Entertainment

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum  (map it!)

220 E Ann St

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 995-5439

http://www.aahom.org/

Lodging

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