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UM-MSU football showdown brings public safety concerns

A flag with both the University of Michigan and Michigan State
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A house divided. The rivalry game kicks off in Ann Arbor Saturday night at 7:30.

Thousands of football fans are pouring into Ann Arbor for tonight’s face-off between the U of M Wolverines and MSU Spartans.

The long-standing rivalry between the two teams and the game’s later-than-usual 7:30 start time have local officials on guard.

Diane Brown with U of M's Division of Public Safety and Security says the department has a comprehensive security plan in place, “as usual.”

She says at the beginning of each season and each week, the department looks at its plans to see if any adjustments are needed.

“Some of the factors we consider are who the opponent is, the kickoff time, the weather forecast, road construction issues, and then what kind of incidents or situations have happened locally or somewhere else in the nation,” Brown said.

Officials are also looking to the public to help keep the evening safe. Brown says that includes good sportsmanship, as well as reporting anything that seems suspicious.

"We would rather check out something that's an empty bag and just totally harmless, than find out about it when it's too late,” Brown said.

Earlier this week, MSU athletic director Mark Hollis and U of M athletic director Warde Manuel sent out a joint letter to students and fans calling for good behavior.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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