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Officials open more gates at football games, ask for early arrivals

Image of: football crowd
Fans enter Michigan Stadium for the Aug. 31 season-opening game versus Washington. U-M officials are teaming up with fans to make entrance to Michigan Stadium easier for all ticketholders. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

U-M athletic department officials say it is important for them to team up with Michigan football fans to help alleviate some of the problems caused by

admitting 110,000-plus fans into Michigan Stadium for Wolverine home games.

Although more gates were open to the crowd and more turnstiles used for Saturday’s game versus Western Michigan University than in the home opener, officials say it is still important for fans to arrive early and be aware of items prohibited in Michigan Stadium. Planning ahead and entering the stadium earlier, they say, can alleviate many of the congestion problems.

Several thousand fans were waiting to get into the Big House before and after the opening kickoff Aug. 31 versus Washington. Security remains tight approaching the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and game officials initiated new procedures this season to accommodate the large crowd coming into Michigan Stadium.

For the remainder of the season, additional gates and turnstiles are being used to accommodate the crowd before all U-M home games. But fans still could find themselves in long lines if they wait until near kickoff to enter the stadium gates and security checkpoints.

The Aug. 31 crowd of 111,491 ranks as the fifth largest in the 76-year history of Michigan Stadium. With home games on the schedule against national powers Penn State and Wisconsin, as well as the annual grudge match with instate rival Michigan State, near-record crowds are expected the remainder of the season.

“The single most important thing we have done is open more gates. We will not have any more problems with fans getting through the gates, if they cooperate,” says Bill Martin, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “We have also added 30–40 percent more turnstiles, but we still urge people to help us by not waiting until the last minute to enter the stadium.”

Gates open two hours prior to kickoff.

Fans won’t be allowed to enter the stadium with any of the following items: bags of any size (purses, fanny packs, backpacks, binocular cases and diaper bags), containers of any kind, aerosol and spray cans, umbrellas and seat backs, flags and flagpoles, alcoholic beverages, coolers, thermoses, cups, bottles, cans and flasks, food of any kind, camcorders and tripods, strollers and weapons.

“Last year, we all had a heightened sense of security and cooperation (after the terrorist attacks). How quickly some people have forgotten,” Martin says. “We need the fans to be team players in the important process of getting everyone in.”

Fans are welcome to bring the following permitted items: non-pocket seat cushions, binoculars without a case, cellular phones, pagers, clear and sealed plastic water bottles, small cameras, radios, blankets and rain apparel.

One area in which things went smoothly, according to athletic department officials, was the new student ticket policy. Beginning this season, students holding student tickets must present valid student identification to be admitted to the stadium.

Non-students who have student tickets must get a $25 validation before the game or they will not be allowed to enter the stadium. This can be done at five locations, including one each on the U-M–Flint and U-M–Dearborn campuses. However, on Saturdays, only the Michigan Union ticket office validates tickets during its regular business hours of 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Only students can validate student tickets at these locations.

“Things went unbelievably well (Aug. 31), and our students were wonderful,” Martin says. “More than 80 percent of students brought their identification and a ticket and little else. Plus, many came early.”

If all fans come to the stadium gates the same way, and with plenty of time to spare, U-M athletic officials say getting into the Big House will not be a big pain.


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