Saturday night is the first Michigan Football game of the 2019 season. Are you planning to attend a game with your kids? We are sharing 6 Tips for Attending a Michigan Football Game with Kids.
1 – Everyone needs a ticket
Every person needs a ticket. It doesn’t matter whether your child is 2 weeks old and in your arms, they still need a ticket. There are still limited tickets available for select home games.
2 – Plan Your Route & Parking
Planning your route to the game is even more important in 2019 with road closures on State and Hoover.
If you know your way around town, you have a big advantage in getting to the football game. Certain routes are much more crowded than others. From several years of Saturday Rec & Ed soccer games around Ann Arbor, I’ve learned which roads are less crowded. In general, if it’s not the primary route from a highway to the stadium area, you’ll be in a better situation. Note I’m not advocating cutting through neighborhoods, just using other routes like Carpenter and Packard instead of 23 and Washtenaw or Zeeb and Liberty instead of 94 & Stadium.
Do you know you can park for free on game days? It just depends how far you are willing to walk. If you have a UM parking permit, you have some closer options (Note that regular UM permits are not valid in the lots closer to the athletic campus on game weekends). When we attended a game several years ago, we were able to use the Thompson garage with my husband’s blue permit. They were charging non-permit holders $20 – I’m sure it’s higher now. The second game my husband and I went to, we parked for free near the Medical School (many lots there are open to the public on the weekend) and walked. It was a LONG walk, but we met little traffic getting there and parked for free.
Be sure to observe any game day parking restrictions in the areas near campus. If you want to park close, Pioneer and the golf course offer game day parking for $50-60 and there are people who charge for parking in their yards (just make sure you won’t get parked in). For more information, check out the official UM Game Day Parking Lists.
Last year my daughter and I collected bottles and cans for her class trip at the UM Golf Course on Game Day.
3 – Child Safety
Michigan Stadium offers ID wristbands for children (and at-risk adults). These bracelets allow you to put a parent’s contact information and where your seats are located inside the band. I love that they include where your seats are since it is quite likely that you wouldn’t hear your cell phone at the game. Wristbands are available at gates 1, 2, 4, 8, & 9. Even though my daughter was 8.5, we still got her a wristband just in case we got separated (and so I could share a photo). This was 5 years ago, but I’m sure they still offer them.
4 – Bathrooms & Other Amenities
Family Restrooms are located in all 4 corners of the stadium (on the outside walls). Changing tables are located in all Family Restrooms and many men’s and women’s restrooms. Restrooms with a changing table will be marked outside with a baby symbol. The stadium map does not indicate which restrooms include a changing table.
Are you a nursing mother? Michigan Stadium has a lactation room! It has 6 individual curtained stations for mothers to nurse or pump. It also has a changing table, electrical outlets, and a TV to keep up with the game. The lacatation room is located on the upper concourse at section 40. Section 40 is at the northeast corner of the stadium.
Cups of water are available for free at various stations as well as at any concession stand with a soda fountain.
The MDen stores inside the stadium tend to be very crowded on game day. Being local, we were able to make sure she had her fill of Michigan gear from MDen or even Target or Meijer before game day. We saved money and time in line – and avoided the crowds.
More details on amenities can be found on the Stadium information page.
5 – Game Day Distractions
If your child isn’t the biggest fan of sports, there are plenty of ways to keep them entertained during the game. Since you can’t bring a bag, the key is to bring something small that fits in a pocket. We let my daughter bring her iPod Touch to the game, but she didn’t use it that much. I finally got her to pay attention to the game. She was definitely more interested in the game being there in person than at home.
The FanFest Zone presented by Meijer opens 3 hours before game time. It is on the southwest corner of Stadium & Main Street. Also try to catch the Michigan Marching Band before the game. The Percussion Step Show is 90 minutes before kickoff and the band’s march starts 60 minutes before kickoff.
Make sure you are in your seats before the game starts. Kids will love seeing the Marching Band, Team Introductions, and maybe even a fly-over. Likewise, some kids may be entertained by the Marching Band’s Half-Time show (another reason to time your bathroom/food breaks for sometime other than right at halftime).
Taking my daughter to get snacks and then eating them during the game also helps her keep from getting bored. A big key is not to go to the concession stands or bathrooms right at halftime. We usually leave with a couple minutes left on the clock to beat the crowds – as long as it’s not an interesting point in the game. My daughter loved seeing the huge bags of pre-popped popcorn that were in the concession stand.
6 – No Bags & Other Prohibited Items
I’ve left the biggest obstacle for family’s for the end (because it’s hard for me to not rant about the practicality). Michigan Football has followed many other sports venues in having a No Bag policy. Exceptions are made for medical supplies (which includes diapers and probably baby feeding items), but they request that they be in a clear plastic bag.
Other prohibited items include umbrellas, strollers, bottles, containers, weapons, alcohol, food, etc. I am surprised that bottles are on the banned list. When we went to a game 5 years ago I was able to bring in an empty water bottle and fill it at the stadium.
Personally, I am not a fan of “No Bag” rules or Bag Searches in general. I think they provide an impression of security, but not actual security. Just look at this picture and compare my banned clutch purse vs a single pocket of my parka that I would wear to a November game. I was tempted to bring my parka with stuffed pockets to the August game to prove a point. At the same time, they also feel sexist and anti-family since they disparately affect women and people with small children.
Your Tips for Attending a Michigan Football Game with Kids
Have you attended a Michigan Football Game with Kids? Do you have any tips to add?