A sea of maize and blue, passionate cheering and a community forming to support a team, this is the game day scene on the University of Michigan campus as described by students. The campus and area surrounding The Big House, Michigan Stadium, fill with Michigan Wolverine football fans every home game.
“Keep your schedule free; everyone’s going to the game,” said University of Michigan student Jonathan Tunney.
With the highest attendance in the NCAA for football, there is no shortage of Wolverine fans or school spirit in Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan.
The Big House is the third largest stadium in the world. Excluding 2020, it has been nearly 50 years since the stadium housed less than 100,000 fans for a Michigan football game. With an average attendance of 108,763 people per game in 2021, the University of Michigan football scene is different from many other colleges around the country, including the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
A handful of schools have their football stadiums off campus. The UNLV Rebels play at Allegiant Stadium and previously Sam Boyd Stadium. Playing in a stadium designed for the NFL Raiders is a unique experience. However, to attend a Rebel football game, UNLV students on campus have to make the 13 minute drive or hour trek to travel 3.4 miles.
Allegiant stadium holds approximately 65,000 people, and UNLV football games have an average attendance of 20,000.
Recent UNLV graduate Jerome Soumare shares, “I do think more students would go if the stadium was on campus. It would be easier to access games and just a better atmosphere overall.”
Michigan’s football team is ranked second and has a dedicated fan base, but the location of The Big House makes going to a game convenient for students.
Tunney says, “Yes, I love having the Big House on campus. It’s like a seven to ten minute walk from my house. It’s the best. The University of Miami in Florida has a really big problem getting any sort of attendance at their games, and I think we’d have a similar problem if our stadium was far away.”
The University of Michigan has a large campus that is sprawled over the greater Ann Arbor area. According to students and Ann Arbor locals, the whole campus and even the golf course nearby will be filled with tailgates and excited Wolverine fans on gameday. Students are not alone when making their journey through campus to The Big House.
“It’s a 15 to 20 minute walk, you can hit tailgates on the way there. Honestly, that’s probably the most convenient part. Me and my friends, personally, we all like to go tailgate and have a little fun before the game. You don’t have to worry about getting in a car and driving there, you can walk there whenever you want, and then it’s easy to take a post-game nap,” shared University of Michigan student Noah Alvesteffere.
For students with off campus stadiums, traffic and the cost of parking or transportation all have to be considered prior to the game.
The Michigan Football team, however, brings the community together in sun or snow regardless of their opponent.
University of Michigan Student Jack Eiden shares, “Having an on-campus stadium is awesome. All of us are different people, but the one thing that unites us is the maize and blue, so the campus atmosphere is incredible on game days. Especially when we’re all dressed in our blue and yellow.”
A ranked team, an on-campus stadium and an abundance of school spirit seems to be the perfect recipe for high game attendance.