Harbaugh hype in Ann Arbor is real and spectacular

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Sometimes it can be difficult to compare one year’s spring game attendance from one year to the next and draw any conclusions, but seeing the numbers coming out of Ann Arbor on Saturday raises some eyebrows. It also suggests interest, or rather the enthusiasm, about the program has done a 180 degree turn in short time.

Michigan’s spring game welcomed an estimated 60,000 fans to Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The good weather certainly helped, as was the chance to see a live game atmosphere from the Wolverines. Oh, and this was the spring game debut of new head coach Jim Harbaugh. There was plenty of reason for Michigan fans to come to Michigan Stadium with interest and vigor. The live scrimmage may not have brought out the best Michigan football possible, but the breath of fresh air surrounding the program was crisp.

Credit that to Harbaugh, with his new signature blue Sharpie hanging around his neck and his Block “M” Michigan hat on his head.

Last year’s open practice at Michigan drew a crowd far smaller than the total showing up on Saturday. An estimated total of 15,000 came out for last season’s live practice. That is quite the jump in one year from the Michigan faithful. Michigan may have the largest stadium in the country, but the 60,000 is believed to be one of the larger crowds on hand for the annual spring game.

Michigan is also starting to see things turn around in season ticket sales. Often a negative discussion point last fall, Michigan Athletics Director Jim Hackett says it is already seeing improvement in ticket sales for the upcoming season. The turnaround has been so significant the Wolverines have started up a waiting list (currently with 1,500 fans added) that has not been used for years.

Speaking with reporters Saturday, Hackett says all 81 of the luxury boxes in Michigan Stadium have been sold out for the upcoming season. This was not the case a year ago.

Every (luxury) box we had for sale is gone, there are no openings there,” Hackett said. “And we had some openings (before Harbaugh was hired). I remember getting informal comments from people after Jim was hired telling me they weren’t going to mail a check in until (they saw who the next coach was).”

Odds seem good we will not be seeing many Coca-Cola ticket promotions in 2015 at Michigan Stadium. Hiring the right coach has already paid off in that respect.

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