Should Michigan Play Neutral Site Games?

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Earlier this week, Michigan Athletic Director Jim Hackett discuss playing neutral site games, he isn’t a big fan of them and prefers that Michigan not travel to neutral site games.  “We have the biggest stadium in the world, we have season ticket holders that say ‘why would you move a game away from us?'” Hackett said. “I’m not a big fan of those.”

For the most part, I agree with Hackett, the beauty and allure of college football is almost wholly based on being on campus in a college atmosphere with loyal fans of the program and season ticket holders in attendance.  There is absolutely no way you can replicate that atmosphere in a professional stadium like “Jerry Jones World” in Dallas.  These neutral site games are largely played in professional stadiums and are sterile to the college game.  College football really loses something when it is taken off campus.

For example, I am continually stunned at the lack of atmosphere when I attend Pitt games at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.  The Pitt Panthers moved to Heinz Field when it opened and will forever lack the amazing atmosphere of a true college game day because they are forced to play in a sterile professional stadium as a second class citizen.  Heinz Field attempts to make Pitt feel at home by hanging collegiate banners, but make no mistake, Heinz Field is the home of the Steelers.  Last season when Pitt hosted Iowa, it appeared as though Iowa was the home team as they traveled well and obviously wear exact replicas of the Steelers uniform.

Trust me when I tell you Minnesota jumped at the first chance they could to get out of a deal with the Vikings to share the Metrodome, they recently built an on campus site for their resurgent football program and the quality of the game day experience has been greatly enhanced.  Sitting in the Minnesota Vikings stadium watching a college game for me personally was one of the worst sporting events I’ve ever experienced.

For the most part I am not a fan of neutral site games because of the lack of atmosphere, but I am a big fan of Michigan being involved in large events on a huge stage.  According to Hackett, Michigan was approached about a potential game in a 160,000 seat venue. “You can’t believe the people knocking on (our) door for (neutral site opportunities) right now because of Jim Harbaugh,” Hackett told MLive. “And they’re not really good ideas for us.”  The enormous venue would appear to be Bristol Motor Speedway, which will host Virginia-Tech v. Tennessee next season.

These huge marquee events are the only games I’d be interested in seeing Michigan play, if for nothing else than the exposure it would bring the Wolverines.  Lacking the national draw of a record setting game, I agree, the Wolverines should play all home games in Ann Arbor!



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