I can still remember
How that Grey Lot used to make me smile
For the past 26 straight years, I have been a proud Michigan Football season ticket holder. The first four years I was an undergrad and was allowed a single student section ticket. Every "Football Saturday" in Ann Arbor was a chance to be part of the wonderful tradition that for me included a chance to bring a few of my new found college friends down to the "Grey Lot" and tailgate with my parents (both alums of UofM) and a group of my parent's friends from college who still gathered religiously to support the Maize & Blue. As an undergrad the tailgate spread of nearly unlimited food, beer, and bloody mary's all proudly laid out for us to share was a dream come true on those sleepy, slightly hung over Saturdays in the fall. I marveled at the fact that my parents and their friends from college had stayed so close for all these years. The consistency and dependability of their tailgate party was comforting and everyone looked forward to seeing each other at the next game. The "Grey Lot" was their pre-determined meeting point every football Saturday and it was an ingrained part of their Michigan Football tradition and experience.
And I knew if I had the chance
That I would see those people dance
And, maybe, they'd be happy for a while
When I graduated I applied for and happily received (2) season tickets in the end zone and (1) Grey Lot parking pass. Two other fraternity brothers of mine who graduated with me and had tailgated with my Mom & Dad also were granted Grey Lot passes for the 1986 season and the tradition was officially passed on. The Grey Lot became the designated tailgate spot where Delt alumni and current undergrad brothers would gather. Soon our group had grown to include more graduated fraternity brothers, ten Grey Lot parking passes, and the official Delt Party Hut to mark the spot where we would raise the flag every football Saturday for the past two decades. Delt brothers coming in for a game at The Big House knew the Grey Lot would be the place to go to find everyone before or after the game. It has been common to see 30 to 50 people turn up for our Grey Lot tailgates, all connected through Delta Tau Delta Fraternaty, the Grey Lot, and the University of Michigan.
But December made me shiver
With the news U of M would deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
My "Preferred Seating Location" invoice came in the mail yesterday along with my Victors Club packet, all glossy and glowing with details of the "Michigan Stadium Expansion Project", the "Preferred Seating Donation Program", and the dreaded "Priority Point Rankings." Bill Martin, the Director of Athletics at U of M, penned some wonderfully sugar coated phases meant to make me feel warm and fuzzy about everything that was about to be explained in this packet. Here are some of my favorites:
- "Because of donors, alumni, and fans like you, our self-supporting department has the resources to field 25 varsity sport teams with more than 750 student-athelites."
- "Your contributions help secure this Michigan tradition.."
- "The Priority Point Program is a comprehensive measure of your support & association with the University Athletic Department. Further, (oh no, here it comes) it is a means of allocating (that's never a good word) tickets, parking, and other benefits in an equitable way. (No! No! Noooooooooooooooooo!)
- "To qualify to purchase a football season parking pass, a Victors Club member must hold football season tickets (check) and have contributed an annual gift of at least $1,500." (check)
- "Beginning with the 2008 season, parking permits will be assigned based upon the priority point program and populated in descending order starting with Blue, Green, Grey, Purple, Red and Brown." (Huh? This doesn't sound good)
- "We regret to inform you that your priority points no longer qualify you for a Grey Lot pass. " Thanks for playing. See Marty Bodnar on your way out for some nice parting gifts. Enjoy the Brown lot. Have a nice life.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about my wounded pride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the Grey Lot diedSo just like that after 26 years of building a tradition around Michigan football Saturdays my friends and I have been "prioritized" out of the Grey Lot. Our gathering spot that we have paid for every year for the past 22 years has been taken away because we no longer "qualify" based on our financial contribution ranking. I hope Bill Martin and company find this post and take a look at the photo of one of our recent "Bring your kids" games. Every one of those kids are potential UofM students who have been raised on fond memories of going to the games with their parents and meeting up with their tailgating friends in the Grey Lot. Just as my parents had passed that tradition on to me, I had hoped to pass it on to my children but instead I have been "measured, allocated, and prioritized." So sorry, no soup for you. Next!
So bye-bye miss american pie
Drove my chevy to the Grey Lot
But the Grey Lot was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin' "This'll be the day that I die."
"This'll be the day that I die."