Game Day Atmosphere

Dylan Burkhardt

No one can deny that the game day atmosphere at Crisler is awful. Weak crowds, few students, poor promotion, bad song choice by the bands, cheesey PA announcer. There are plenty of valid criticisms of the game day atmosphere. Luckily Beilein and his staff are doing things to try to improve the game day atmosphere. Here is a basic list of what is being done:

  • A new sounds system is being installed in Crisler this off-season.
  • Free Student Tickets have been proposed and are a possibility for next year.
  • Re-arranging the band and student sections has also been proposed. A side note, I hear there are some sticking points here such as Crisler infrastructure such as heating and cooling may be a higher priority.
  • Beilein wants students input! He has organized a meeting 6pm on April 16th at Crisler to meet with students. There will be a brainstorm session with Beilein for ideas followed by training table with the team after their workout.
  • If you can make it, please attend the meeting. Anyone that is planning on attending the meeting send Steve Wolters an email ( A bigger turn out will be encouraging for the basketball staff and make things like free tickets and other improvements more likely. If students won’t show up for free food why would people think they would show up for free basketball tickets.
  • Anyone that has suggestions for game day changes leave them in the comments and I can pass them a long to people who will listen.
  • AC

    I was a member of the basketball band when I attended school during the post-fab five era. While there is a limit to what the band can and can’t play, generally they’ll play whatever gets the players and the crowds fired up… least that’s how it was when I was around.

    There were times when some of the players liked a particular song we played so we’d try to play it for their benefit to fire them up. Saying, “the band doesn’t play good music” doesn’t solve the problem so feel free to pass along your constructive suggestions to the band regarding their selection. I know they value input as well.

  • hoosierine

    That is awesome. I don’t know if Beilein is going to fix everything or not, but no one can deny this man is working his butt off trying to make things work.

    Both him and Rodriguez immediately seemed willing to go to any lengths to make students/alumni happy (RichRod bringing in the ’69 team, appearances at Yost/Chrisler, Beilein doing this). Those kind of PR moves make me think that these guys are both going to get it done on and off the court.

  • Kevin in GR

    It’s great to hear that UM/Beilein sound serious about improving the atmosphere. Here are a few of my suggestions:
    -Make it a COLLEGE atmosphere, not pro (ie Play jazzy/upbeat college band music, forget about the NBA/hip hop/rock music, have a season “theme”, bring alumni/current football players out for halftime festivities)
    -Watch Duke/UNC games for more ideas :)
    -Give perks to season ticket holders/student ticket holders (ie annual party/meet n greets)
    -Buy one/get one free promotions (of which I took advantage of)
    -Do what you can get to as many student’s in the Blue section..the games are for them!

  • Ky Fox

    this is awesome dylan! Can anyone attend this??

  • Ky Fox

    Honestly i would love to see them spice up the court a little bit! Its soo bland! Add a little blue to it, something like floridas court or something like that…we dont want to copycat of course! I do not know how costly that could get but i think it would help give us a little more identity and flare! Kids look at that a lot when theyre in the recruiting process….whats the court look like?….whats the atmosphere like??….who are they sponsored by??….what kind of gear is going to be at my disposal??… All those things play a part..sometimes not a big one but still it cant hurt! And i would almost like to see a mixture of college/nba type atmosphere…it might look more appealing to a bigtime recruit! ie..memphis..theyre atmosphere is obviously more pro sense they play at fedex..but its funny because the whole team is almost nba potential! Thats would be my biggest nag is the court!! Just looks like a bunch of stained wood :(

  • Ky Fox

    Dylan, did we have a midnight madness last season??

  • Chris

    More than the court or the interior of Crisler, the concourses are so dark and drab it’s really off-putting. Especially now that they have the court better lit, the contrast is astounding. Just amping up the attage some would improve things, but better graphics/colors/decor wouldn’t hurt.

    The lack of student involvement in most sports is astounding. Volleyball and hockey have good student sections, but everything else is sad. Women’s gymnastics used to have a good student following under Rishi, but those days are clearly gone. Face it. most kids are sheep — you need to find the energetic, motivated, unafraid ones to turn even less-than-stellar events into the place to be.

  • hat

    I’d say the football student section is OK – not at the level of hockey, but it does its part (it’s the alums in the other 80,000 seats that don’t hold up their end). But yeah, in most sports our fans could do better.

  • Ky Fox

    very intersting that our fan base is the way it is…given michigan in general(pistons, tigers, redwings, msu) have arguably the best fans in the nation…at least top 5! I know its hard to compare college to pro..but compare us to the tigers 5 years ago, when we were the laughingstock of the mlb….remember the attendance ratings?? They were horrible! What turned it around?? W’s! I think if UM can start winning some games(17-20) and be somewhat enjoyable to watch than i think we will start to see better ratings! Along with all that JB is doing to boost things! If i lived a bit closer i would be at every game. Most students from my experience arent quite as hardcore as we are here, so they can tend to become fairweather fans if you will! Which is why I think its awesome that JB is really getting involved! I wont put it pass JB to come up with some cool innovative boost to better things off the court…just like hes going to on the court!

  • Ky Fox

    does anyone recall a couple years back when we were transporting fans to crisler from detroit via bus?? Maybe we should do something like that again! People who really want to attend games but might not have the means to do so. I dont kno…its just a suggestion. I mean i wouldnt want that to be our main source for attendance..but if it put a few more people in the arena who really wanted to be there and cheer UM on that why not. Maybe give those people a discounted price. Maybe it wouldnt be cost effective enough.

  • Musket Rebellion

    I know I don’t post on here ever, but I really like the blog. I wasn’t really a big fan of the bball team while I was at school, but Beilein seems to be bringing an energy that just hasn’t been there in years. I like the idea that Beilein is reaching out to the students to improve the game day atmosphere, which is why I decided to post for the first time.

    1. We need more students, and free tickets WILL get them in the seats. Michigan makes so much money off of their student football tickets that there really is no need to have students pay for any other sporting events (except hockey because the price makes sure that the most dedicated fans will be there). I heard a proposal about how anyone who purchased football tickets could get bball tickets free. That is a pretty novel idea that could generate a massive upswing in student activity at games.

    2. Lose the NBA hip-hop and glam feel to the game. It is college. If we were a big time program then I could see all the production, but we definitely need to feel like a college environment. Places like Cameron and the Breslin revolve around the noise of the students and the band. There shouldn’t ever be any piped in music at a college event. The Victors should be played about a million times a game, as well as other classic rock/modern music gems. If the band can set Billie Jean to those instruments I want to hear it.

    3. Since Crisler is a much smaller venue than Michigan Stadium getting some effort out of the non-students would be awesome. Sure this is a giant undertaking considering the general apathetic nature of Alumni/fans, but if the student section could rouse the fans to interact more it would be great. The more noise the better. Things like the “go” “blue” chant across the court are a great start. At the Illinois game this year at the end of the game the fans couldn’t get to their feet at the end of a close (albeit ugly) game. This culture needs to change.

    4. Hire an announcer who isn’t a tool.

    5. Bring back the Fab Five. I don’t care what kind of pill the administration has to swallow. You put those banners back up in the rafters, and bring ALL of them back (including Webber) and get them to come to games and Crisler will go apeshit. They did a great thing with bringing Jalen back this year. They should’ve retired his number. Getting King, Jackson, Howard, Webber and Rose back into the fold can only bring positive vibes. Webber has learned his lesson, and if he can influence the program as a positive role model (and help recruiting in Detroit) then he needs to come back. But most important is getting the banners back up in Crisler. Every time I step in there I look at what should be up there, and die a little inside.

    Sorry for the long post, keep up the great work.

  • Musket Rebellion

    Also, bring back Travis Conlan. Definately one of my all time favorites. He was 3rd in the Belgian top league this past year in assists.

  • Great comments from everyone.

    One thing Musket about the “hip hop feel”, I think there is very little of that at Crisler. Maybe not enough. There was an article somewhere about “hot time outs” at Wake I think a year or two back and it made a huge difference. I remember when we played at OSU and the place was not full at all and they were piping in music til it was time to play and it caused Michigan a 5 second call. Of course you need Hail to the Victors and the band but I think turning down all other music is a bad thing. Hopefully they make good use of the new sound system.

  • Gary

    I’ve been a season ticket holder for 18 years and I was also a season ticket holder for 4 years as an undergrad at Illinois many years ago (degrees from both schools) and have a few thoughts based on both experiences.
    1. Replace the sound system ASAP! It is the worst I have heard in a public arena.
    2. Get rid of the recorded music. You don’t need it if the band is doing its job.
    3. The student band needs to do a better job. One indication – the crowd gets into the music the band is playing more when the alumni band is there during school breaks. The alumni band director really gets things going – performances are very upbeat and entertaining. The student band suffers in comparison. More variety in music, and more flair in performance would help.
    4. Shake up the long-time season ticket holders. Take away their good seats if they miss too many games (should be easy to track with the electronic ticket scanners they have). Too many old folks close to the court sitting on their hands doesn’t help. Find a way to rotate some of them out of there and move the younger fans down. Keep the students as close to the court as possible.
    5. Take a serious look at what some other schools have done to build up their student sections. The Maize Rage look like they are having fun, but there aren’t enough of them and they often get drowned out by the visiting fans. Give the tickets away if you have to.
    6. One way to build up student enthusiasm is to charter a bus to take Maize Rage members to a couple of away games. I remember that Tommy Ammaker paid for that a couple of times when he was coach. Are they still doing that?
    7. Getting a winning program will doubtless help, but there is an odd vibe in Chrisler that I am not sure will ever go away. I get it when I realize that I am the only one standing and cheering in my section after a big play in a close game. I also get it when I see fans streaming to the exits with 5 minutes to go and UM down by 10. Unfortunately, this kind of thing occurred even during the Fab Five era, just not as bad as now.

    By the way, this is a great blog and I hope it will help build interest in UM basketball!

  • hat

    Musket – great points. The only thing is that on the Fab Five, I don’t think we’re allowed to bring CWebb back until the 10-year ban (which I think started in 2002 or 2003) expires. But by all means, bring in the rest. And when the 10 years are up, bring Webber too and honor the Fab Five completely.

  • Giddings

    Glad to hear your enthusiasm Gary. I can address a few of your points…

    1) As Dylan indicated above, a new sound system is in the works, which should make a huge difference.
    3) Agree about the student band, although you can’t say they aren’t trying. The band director was new this year and he did everything he could to improve, including sending band members to Maize Rage meetings and taking direct requests from students. It will get better.
    5) It’s very rare to see a school out there that loses as much as we have but gets as much or more student fan support. Once we start winning, demand will skyrocket. In the meantime, free tickets would help.
    6) Tommy did indeed have buses available for one or two Maize Rage road trips each year… Beilein was willing to do the same for this year (Rage was ready to go to Northwestern) but after the disappointing start to the season we pretty much gave up on the trip (not enough interest).

    By the way, about the PA announcer… I’m just curious, do those of you that hate him at U-M basketball games feel the same about him at Tiger games at Comerica Park? Because it is the same guy… and while I admit he’s a bit more animated at U-M games, I like him at both.

  • Jdub

    Wow I’m pumped for free tickets next year! This is the most important thing that could happen.

  • Get groups of kids from state schools comming in by offering special deals. They could also offer tours of the school. This would help get kids interested in the team and the school.

  • Ky Fox

    totally agree with whoever is loyal in attending and purchasing ticketts for the football games getting a huge deal on basketball ticketts!
    and we just need t spice things up! Its just soo dry and bland in crisler! I would even go to the lengths of maybe spicing up our uni’s…our court design needs help and i agree with Dylan in that we can not totally abandon piped in music! We need to stand out a little bit. We need to be unique and original with what we are doing….maybe take a few good points from the duke and msu venues..but all in all I think we should balze our own trail so to speak! We need it to be a fun, exciting, and when people leave crisler they should not stop talking about how much fun they had and how great of a game it was that they just watched! So free ticketts, and other fun halftime events would help! I think there are quite a few things UM should do to get things going at crisler, but if could chip away at it for the next couple years we should see a different atmosphere here!

  • Steve

    I’m excited to see what Adidas does with the uniforms /warm-ups/kicks next year. I’ve like the Tennessee and UCLA shoes, so hopefully we’re treated well :)

  • RB

    1) More lights… everywhere

    2) Wilkins (I think that’s his name) should be leading the band every game. The band needs to have more fun and that rubs off on the whole arena.

    3) Make the upper deck seating general admission. Kind of ridiculous now. There will be sections totally empty yet the people that buy walk up tickets will all be seated right on top of each other.

    4) Go back to fab five era uniforms. Pretty close now, just make the M on the shorts bigger. Those were the best.

    5) Stop playing the Chicago Bulls intro as our intro. Most fans are also Pistons fans and this definately rubs the wrong way.

    6) More band, less piped in music. Band needs to play more modern songs (even maybe some hip hop type). At a college game somewhere (can’t remember where) I once saw a student rapping along with the band playing a hip hop song. Believe it or not, it was actually pretty good. Maybe Petway can come back.

    7) When I was a student there, it seemed like kind of a pain to get to the arena. Maybe before each game have a pre game Maize Rage meal somewhere central with good food as incentive, and bus everyone together to the game.

    8) New announcer. He’s not horrible, but just doesn’t fit the mood.

    9) Maybe the concessions could get a little better or more creative.

    10) Get rid of “the twist”. That was just painful.

    11) The cheerleaders need to step it up too. At the big 10 tourney it was clear that our cheerleading didn’t stack up to everyone elses. They got bullied by Wisconsin and saw very little court time. Also, throw the girls into the maize outfits every game so we don’t feel like we are in Hickory circa 1955.

  • Ky Fox

    me to steve! Something along the lines of a louisville, tennessee, or even memphis! Id like to see UM and adidas get together and do something unique and original! But back to the crowd….I agree totally with rotating fans around especially the bluehaired ones who sit basically 2 rows up from the floor who are sitting on there hands! Thats not good for atmosphere! Agreed we need an injection of younger people! I agreed also with the idea of forcing all the older alums and general fan base up to the second level and dedicating the whole first level to students and band….crisler isnt a giant arena anyway so people sitting in the upper levels shouldnt feel jipped. There is no reason anyone but the students should be in the first level! Its the students who are going to give our atmosphere the desperate lift it needs anyway!

  • Ky Fox

    next year i believe we will see ratings increase. Just simply from the the new recruits and the hope of winning more games!

  • Ky Fox

    agree also with more lights, EVERYWHERE!!

  • They did just put in new lights and they are definetely WAY brighter.

    But they certainly need to get new lights on the concourse.

  • Ky Fox

    Yeah thats what i meant! The court itself does indeed look tremendously better, but the rest of the arena could use some uplifting!

  • Yup, the lighting in the concourse is awful. Need to brighten it up, make the concessions look nicer, throw in memorabilia and decorations and such. Take a walk through Ford Field’s concourse and you will see what I mean.

  • BL11

    I agree with the general admissions for upper level… noise level would increase and it rewards fans for getting their early, being excited!

    The biggest thing though is getting the old fans out of the best seats. I don’t care how long they have had them or who they know. THEY DON’T CHEER. I almost wen’t off on an older lady who was doing crosswords during the game. IT’S RIDICULOUS.

  • Gary

    “3) Agree about the student band, although you can’t say they aren’t trying. The band director was new this year and he did everything he could to improve, including sending band members to Maize Rage meetings and taking direct requests from students. It will get better.”

    I am glad to hear this. In the time I have been going to UM games I have seen a lot of changes in the pep band. I am sure the new director will get it right and I always appreciate the effort the student members put into it.

    One low point from the last season – they had fans vote on favorite songs via text message during the games and then played a recording of the winning tune during a timeout. On one occasion the winning song was “Living on a Prayer” – a song that I am sure I have heard the pep bad do before (I know the marching band does an arrangement of it). But instead we were subjected to a recorded version on that awful sound system. Hearing the band play it would have been a lot better.

    I am an older, but enthusiastic, alumni fan. Moving the alumni fans is a tricky issue. I remember some controversy among alums years ago when the student section was moved from behind the south basket to midcourt. I was a good move and I supported it then and now. But devoting the full lower bowl to students won’t work when they aren’t even filling the section they have now.

    Instead I would start by going after season ticket no-shows. Tell people they will be bumped to upper-bowl seats if they aren’t using the ones they have.

    Finally, maybe some gentle chiding of fans doing crossword puzzles might be in order (except during visiting team introductions).

  • Ky Fox

    yeah if we want to see our bball program and atmosphere take the next step we cannot have laid back(no offense to anyone) older fans playing sudoku, totally oblivious to whats happening on the court and eating up the front rows! We need those seats to be filled by cheering fans, and the band…maybe even expand the number of bball band members a little to up the volume and help fill those lower level seats! I agree though that its going to be tough because there isnt enough students filling up theyre area. So maybe free ticketts might be an incentive! You still want students to go to the games because they want to cheer theyre fellow students on, and not just because theres always something free involved…although if thats what it takes to get more people in front of the team than so be it!

  • They have been scanning tickets for two years now I think. Yet I don’t think anything has been done with respect to getting worse tickets etc. That is a change that is DEFINITELY needed.

  • hoosierine

    the guy is a tool at comerica and at chrisler. at comerica, at least it is pro and that is how pro announcers are (even though think it is toolish)

    theres absolutely no place for that crap at chrisler.

    take yost for example: anouncer is total straightforward and class. yet, the students have so much fun with him (not as good as the guy in the 90’s, but still good)

    that is the way college announcers should be, glitz and that crap is for the bigs.

  • bluepanther

    There was plenty of cheering and noise during the OSU game. Winning will take care of a lot of game day atmosphere. I can still remember when when we won reliably at home: we were never drowned out by visiting students.

    There is pleny of blame to be spread amongst the age groups. I think relocating any fans categorically is a huge mistake at this point. The only fans left are the most loyal ones. There just are not enough of them and they don’t make enough noise. Even students seemed to be MIA especially in the Minnesota game — they ignored challenges from the visiting Gophers.

    My suggestion is to video the fans-all of them- and make it clear that retaining seats in the blue at the same location depends on enthusiasm and participation. But this will only work when they sell all the tickets.

    Also, why not get cheerleaders to do more actual cheers that people can join in?

  • Ky Fox

    Thats a good idea in getting more involved with the cheerleaders, i mean hense the name “CHEER leaders” they should step it up a notch!
    but i just think that winning more games, spicing up the court, some better lighting, new recruits, hopes of winning more games, and anything else JB does to take it up a notch, will get things going here at UM! Wins can do a lot for attendance! Again i would really like them to do something to the court!

  • Musket Rebellion

    Michigan, regardless of sport, has always had the worst cheerleaders in the nation. The uniforms are disgusting and conservative, and they spend most of the game talking amongst themselves. I think that getting a new cheerleading coach in would definitely help. Also, why can’t they have cooler, younger uniforms, the dance team especially. I don’t want them to look like prostitutes, but something with a little flair would be great. They should also do more halftime shows.

    I think that the student section should be moved to the other side of the arena, as it is you have to have an away section right behind the opposing teams bench, and that completely destroys the ability for a student section to cause chaos during timeouts and breaks in the action. Either move the section or get rid of the away tickets right behind the bench.

    I stand behind my earlier statement of removing the piped in music. Really the only time that it is needed would be during player introductions, if each player wanted to pick a song to be announced to that would an entertaining twist. The pep band needs to be dominant.

    One recurring theme of this board has been that with winning will come changes. That is very true, but what we need to remember is that we need to be a great atmosphere even when we aren’t winning. This is a Big Ten school that has a rich basketball tradition. Sure we are in a dark period right now, but that doesn’t mean that Crisler has to suffer.

    One last thing, removing lazy and lethargic fans is a great idea, they should do the same thing at Michigan Stadium too. Just because you paid a ton of money for those seats doesn’t mean you can come and not embrace the team, the game, or the environment.

  • hat

    I totally agree about the piped in music. If the players want it during warmups, that’s OK, but that should be all. Give the band a good playlist (the alumni band always seems to have one) and it’ll do fine. And yeah, the PA guy is just not right. We don’t have to have a Howard King/Carl Grapentine clone, but there’s got to be somebody out there who can sound less . . . dorky.