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Key things to know about game day at the University of Michigan

Looking to make it to a game this fall? Here are the important things to know to better prepare you!

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve ever attended a game at Michigan Stadium or are familiar enough with it from a historical perspective, you should know just how special a college football Saturday is in Ann Arbor. However, some of us aren’t as lucky as others and haven’t ever been to a game or in the city on a fall Saturday, despite being a Michigan Wolverines fan for a lifetime.

If you’re planning on being in Ann Arbor on a Saturday this fall, here are a few things you should know about the Big House, the tailgating scene in Ann Arbor, and more.

History of Michigan Stadium

Michigan Stadium first opened its doors all the way back in 1927. Back then, the capacity was only 72,000 — which is still bigger than some Power 5 schools to this day. Fast forward to present day, the stadium is the largest in America and can hold more than 110,000 spectators in it.

Numerous additions and renovations have been completed over the years to ensure an elite experience at Michigan Stadium. Just this summer, LED lights and bigger scoreboards — along with a better sound system — were added to modernize and enhance the fan experience. Additionally, back in 2010, a $226 million renovation and expansion project was completed, adding a new press box, 83 luxury boxes and 3,200 seats for club members. Some bleachers were replaced, while other seating areas were expanded out to create more room per person. From start to finish, this was a nearly three-year project.

The Wolverines have played every home game in Michigan Stadium since its grand opening nearly 100 years ago, but other major events have taken place there as well. The Detroit Red Wings played the Winter Classic at the Big House back in 2014 and set a record for most attendees for a hockey game at 105,491. Two soccer juggernauts in Real Madrid and Manchester United also played in Michigan Stadium in 2014 to an American record of 109,318 people.

Michigan has played in plentiful big games in Ann Arbor over the years, with no bigger crowd than the 2013 Notre Dame game, when Michigan Stadium held more than 115,000 people for the Wolverines’ win over the Irish.

Tailgating in Ann Arbor

There are numerous places to set up shop for a tailgate close to Michigan Stadium. Among the most popular places for fans to go is the U-M golf course and Pioneer High School. Parking passes are needed for both these locations, and you can purchase them online — whether it’s a single-game pass or a season pass — by clicking the links above.

Once you’re all parked and set up for your tailgate, expect to see people grilling food, having adult beverages and tossing the pigskin around. A hearty “Go Blue” is occasionally heard coming from people walking by.

Traditions to know

There are a few traditions to be aware of if you have never been to a Michigan game. Below are just a handful of them to help you get started.

  • If the band begins to play “The Victors,” here is every word for you: “Hail to the victors valiant, Hail to the conquering heroes, Hail, Hail, to Michigan the leaders and best. Hail to the victors valiant, Hail to the conquering heroes, Hail, Hail, to Michigan the champions of the west. Go Blue!”
  • If you hear a cowbell, say “Go Blue” once you hear it stop. Here’s a video to help you understand what I’m talking about.
  • It’s pretty basic but “Seven Nation Army” is usually a go-to song choice. Over the last half-decade or so, “Mr. Brightside” has also become a staple at Michigan Stadium, so be sure to sing along to these songs and more when they are played.
  • Once the opposition reaches fourth down, the band starts to play a song and at the very end, the entire stadium will chant, “You suck!” so don’t be left out of this one.
  • Michigan Stadium is known to show the score of the Slippery Rock game on the scoreboard. Wolverine fans = Slippery Rock fans.
  • Standing on your effin’ feet and be loud the whole game, especially when the team comes out of the tunnel for the first time and when the team is on defense.