UM asks fans to arrive early for OSU for increased security

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Ohio State visits Michigan Stadium at noon on Saturday.

Mirroring increased safety measures in sports venues around the country in light of the recent terrorist tragedies abroad, fans are encouraged to arrive earlier for the upcoming Michigan-Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium.

There are "no known specific safety threats" directed at the stadium, according to an athletic department release sent Sunday afternoon. Michigan Stadium has a capacity of 107,601, but well more than that will crowd the surrounding area.

Michigan and Ohio State will play their annual rivalry game at noon.

"Out of an abundance of caution, each patron will be asked to open their coat or outerwear for a visual inspection to screen for prohibited items," according to the release. "Patrons also may be patted down by law enforcement officers or asked to empty their pockets, if necessary."

Certainly, after the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, security was increased at all sports venues around the country. Two years ago after the Boston Marathon bombings, former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told The Detroit News their departments are in constant contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett said he is in contact with Homeland Security and is confident with what Michigan has in place at Michigan Stadium, as well as the other athletic venues on campus.

"Since 9-11, there's a great system built up all around what we have," Hackett told The Detroit News. "They help train us, and we put in various techniques that give us great comfort.

"I have a lot of confidence. It's really the university, Ann Arbor, state and federal teams of people communicating. They have a coordinated planning system for that and they have real-time control, because everything is microphoned and connected. There's a lot of care for not disturbing the game but being watchful."

The objective on Saturday is to have fans arrive early. Michigan Stadium gates open at 9:30 a.m. for suite and club seating, and gates open for general seating at 10 a.m.

"We expect a very large, excited crowd for the big game," said Joe Piersante, director of University Security Services with U-M's Division of Public Safety and Security. "We are encouraging fans to park early as nearby parking areas my fill up quickly. Then plan to arrive at the stadium early in order to clear the gate security and watch the Senior Day tribute during pre-game ceremonies.

"We want this to be a safe environment for our patrons and area neighbors. We regularly analyze our security plans and make modifications as necessary."

Which means screening each person entering the stadium.

Parking at the U-M Golf Course and Ann Arbor Golf and Outing will open at 7 a.m., while parking at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School will open at 6 a.m.

Go here for a list of permitted and prohibited items at Michigan Stadium.