As the daughter of a high school football coach, football is just in my DNA. I was always a fun date in high school and college when it came to Super Bowl parties or other big game events. I was the girl that watched the game, yelled in outrage at the refs, and contemplated if the next play would be a pass or a running play. This was all while the other ladies stayed in the kitchen doing other things.
So anytime that the opportunity is presented to me to go behind the scenes of something football related, I jump on that opportunity.
That’s where Michigan Stadium, in Ann Arbor comes in. Most often referred to as The Big House, this behemoth of a stadium is currently the largest college football stadium in the country.
How many seats does The Big House have?
The Big House has a seating capacity of 107,601. That’s a lot of your closest friends sitting together and watching the University of Michigan take on whomever they are playing that week.
What you need to know about the Michigan Stadium Tour:
The tour is between 60 and 90 minutes long, depending on the size of your group and the number of questions those in your group may have.
How much is the tour of The Big House?
The tour costs $20 per person (or a minimum of $100 total), so grab 5 of your friends and check out the stadium.
Ok, enough of the details, let’s talk about my experience touring the iconic stadium.
The Michigan Stadium Tour Experience.
First, I need to note that the tour I was on was part of a media tour so our time was limited, as we were on a tight schedule.
We started by pulling right up to the stadium and driving through the area where you normally walk, and wait in line for what seems like forever to grab a pretzel or a snack. When (not if) you go on this tour, this will also be your experience as well.
This may seem insignificant to you but, to me, I was struck by how still the normally packed stadium really was.
From this point, we took an elevator up to the club/press box level. The nickname “The Big House” originated when announcer Keith Jackson was opening a game and said “Welcome to The Big House” and the name stuck from that point on.
I tell you this now, because when we stepped off the elevator, we were greeted by photos of the iconic announcers in Michigan history and Bill, our extremely knowledgeable tour guide shared this nugget with us.
The next stop on the tour included a peek into the press boxes and the spaces where network TV does their show. It is quite awe inspiring to take a moment and think about the folks that have sat in these seats and watched nail biter games. Plus, these seats offer some pretty fantastic views.
Next we got to look at the door that holds the secrets to the plays that get reviewed. Our tour guide shared with us that they don’t share the same angles with those watching TV as the group of officials who are reviewing the calls. Bill told us that there are about 10 retired refs that are on hand just for these important review moments.
From there, we were shown an example of the luxury suites that are available for lease. Ranging from $60,000 to $90,000 these suites aren’t exactly going to be covered by your couch cushion change, unless of course, your couch cushions hold that sort of cash, in which case…let me know and I’ll help you scrape it up.
The yearly fee does not include food, so you’ll want to make sure that you budget for that. A point of interest, The Big House is a dry stadium, meaning they do not sell alcohol, including serving it in the suites.
Next, we got back into the vehicles and drove around to the rear of the stadium, to the section closest to the Crisler Center (the University’s basketball arena). It is a rather unassuming area, but behind two plain doors, was the game day locker room, and we got to go in!
I loved this part of the tour so very much. As we were in the locker room taking in the space, I thought a lot about the various players that had stood in the very spot that I was in. Desmond Howard, Tom Brady, Charles Woodson come to mind. I could imagine the fiery halftime speeches that were given along with the tears that fell after a hard fought game, players unable to bring themselves to change back into their street clothes and rejoin the general public.
Just as the players who were suiting up to take the field would, we left the locker room doors and turned to head down the tunnel and on to the field. Again, another surreal moment. Not to mention the tunnel was long and very sloped. Which I found out was due to the fact that the playing field actually sits about four stories below street level. So those seats that seem like they are so very high about the field, they are actually right about street level.
The walk onto the field was so very cool as well. I know I keep saying that about every part of the tour, but it really was.
The field was very awe inspiring, especially imagining what it must be like to look up into the stands as a player and hear the roar of the crowd.
They shared with us some other very interesting tidbits about the field, but I will save them for you to discover on your tour.
If you are ever in Ann Arbor, I can’t recommend a tour of The Big House enough. It just might turn you into a Wolverine fan, or at the very least, restore your love of college football. Make sure you keep your eyes open, you may just see Sasha Obama in the University of Michigan student section.
For more information you can visit their website, here.