Following multiple incidents last season, Michigan is removing about 45 seats from Michigan Stadium in order to widen access to the tunnel where players enter and exit the field.
According to a report by MLive, Michigan will permanently remove a “moveable sliver of seats” on the south side of the tunnel to “give players, coaches and staff additional space to pass through the mouth of the tunnel without incident.” The decision came after a “thorough safety review” by athletic department officials following the 2022 season.
Per the report, “the decision directly stems from an incident that occurred during Michigan’s Oct. 29 win over in-state rival Michigan State, when a spectator on the north side of the tunnel reached down and came in physical contact with MSU coach Mel Tucker, touching his head.” After that same game, a brawl erupted inside the tunnel that led to criminal assault charges against seven Michigan State players.
That altercation came just two weeks after a verbal spat between Michigan and Penn State players inside the tunnel that led to a back-and-forth between James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh in which Franklin said “the one tunnel is a problem.” There was also a war of words in the tunnel between Ohio State and Michigan players at halftime of the 2021 edition of The Game.
Chaos in the tunnel between Ohio State & Michigan pic.twitter.com/HedljphBq1— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) November 27, 2021
While most college football stadiums have multiple entrances to the field so that teams can enter and exit the field separately, both teams enter and exit the field through the same tunnel at Michigan Stadium, creating a pressure-cooker environment that has boiled over during and after heated games in recent years.
Per the report, Michigan will add standing-room-only seats elsewhere in Michigan Stadium to maintain its listed capacity of 107,601.