Brandon's Blog: Preparing for Football Season
Michigan Stadium

Aug. 18, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Football season is closing in with only 16 days until the first game at Michigan Stadium. Our football team is in the midst of two-a-day practices and the fans are eagerly anticipating the opening kickoff.

Inside the walls of the Michigan Athletic Department, training and planning is also taking place for the upcoming seasons -- but especially for football.

When you double the size of the city on one day and bring in 110,000-plus fans, the amount of coordination that must take place and the work that must be done before Michigan Stadium opens is enormous.

Security, safety, concessions, marketing, ushers, vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, ticket management, being good hosts to our opponents, scheduling team practice times, coordinating with TV networks, planning for the hundreds of members of the media who will cover our game, hosting recruits, and getting all of the technology and communications equipment tested and ready to go are just a few of the critical issues we need to manage as we get ready for Michigan football at Michigan Stadium.

Our team needs to plan and anticipate. We do not want to be in a response mode; our team needs to be proactive.

Last year, Shelly Fabrizio, director of operations and event management, took over as the head coach for this monumental task.

Just this past Saturday, we completed our event staff training. This year we used Zing Train (the customer service training group from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor) in three separate sessions to work with the 500-plus ushers and event staff. The event staff are really the front lines of Michigan Athletics. They are the first people who meet and greet our fans as they walk into the Big House.

Not only will you see a change in their appearance, you will see a change in the way fans are treated. Gone are the yellow windbreakers. Our staff will now wear navy polos and navy jackets. They will be courteous and work to help all fans. Even when you drive up to one of our parking areas, the attendants will be dressed in the proper colors and look sharp.

Yesterday, numerous individuals representing the City of Ann Arbor, local law enforcement, parking services, the Michigan Band, university officials and many more groups came together to hear our plans and discuss strategies they have developed from last season to help those who live in Ann Arbor have a safe and pleasant Saturday -- whether they attend the football game or not.

I have had the opportunity to talk to all three of our Saturday training sessions for staff during the summer, and I also offered remarks to the group at the planning meeting yesterday. What impressed me is how all of these hard-working people understand that they are representing not only their organization, but in all cases they know they are representing the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan Athletic Department.

We all know Brady Hoke and many of our football players. They get a lot of well-deserved recognition.

It is just as important to give recognition to those like Shelly and the organizations and volunteers who work so hard to make a Michigan football game day so much fun for our fans and community.

Go Blue!

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