SBD/Issue 245/Facilities & Venues

Newly Renovated Michigan Stadium Set To Make Debut Saturday

The $226M Renovation Took Three Years To
Complete, Ups Big House Capacity To 109,901

A "new-and-improved Michigan Stadium will be unveiled" during Saturday's Connecticut-Michigan game, according to Rod Beard of the DETROIT NEWS. The $226M renovation "took three years to complete and features new suites and premium seating, concourses, concession areas, more restrooms, wider seats and aisles and a press box." Incoming Univ. of Michigan AD David Brandon: "There's more circulation space, so it's easier to move around. There are more points of sale for both merchandise and food, so it's easier and faster to get access to food and merchandise than it's ever been." UM Development Associate Russell Grimm also noted there is a 129% "upgrade over last year" in terms of restrooms, while the renovation "also allows for better and increased seating areas for fans in wheelchairs." Brandon said that he "expects future renovations to include the widening of seats and aisles and scoreboard improvements." Beard noted Michigan Stadium's new capacity is 109,901, "moving ahead of Penn State's Beaver Stadium and reclaiming the distinction of being the largest in the nation." With the "addition of the suites, press box and four decorative towers (one in each corner), more of the crowd noise is expected to remain in the stadium." Brandon: "They're going to find that this is a much louder stadium, with the architectural design" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/2). In Michigan, Jeff Arnold noted the "revenue generated by suites (65 of which have been committed to for the next three seasons) and the club seating (100 percent of which has been sold for this season) will cover the cost of the rest of the improvements." UM AD Bill Martin, whose "final day as a university employee" is Saturday, said that "because the majority of the luxury seating is sold" the project is "'beyond break even,' -- complete without requiring tax dollars or university resources" (ANNARBOR.com, 9/2).

LASTING LEGACY: In Detroit, Mark Snyder writes the renovated Michigan Stadium is the "crowning achievement" of Martin's "10-year term as athletic director and employee." Martin "knew renovating Michigan Stadium could be wildly unpopular with large segments of the Michigan fan base." Martin: "I knew changing Michigan Stadium -- the most iconic structure on Michigan's campus -- was going to be a challenge. I knew that people were going to say you're crazy and going to take shots at me. But that's natural when people are as passionate as our fans are. And I knew that." Snyder notes Martin "loves the brick appearance and is proud of the side glass in the suites," and he is "especially proud of his idea to have the names of the state's counties etched into brick in the concourse exterior walls" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/3).

NEW AND IMPROVED: In Tennessee, Patrick Brown notes Neyland Stadium's "new look" will make its debut during Saturday's UT-Martin-Tennessee game. A new plaza "includes an arched brick entrance and a remodeled amphitheater, where the Vol Network's pregame call-in show will broadcast live." The brick exterior "extends from the plaza to cover the entire exterior of the stadium's west side," and the bricks have "given the 89-year-old stadium a much fresher image." Brown also notes the Tennessee Terrace, which features "1,800 new seats on the west side upper deck, will be opened for the first time" (KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL, 9/3).

ON THE RISE: In Alabama, Jon Solomon noted the "cost of staying affiliated with the SEC and Big East means higher ticket prices at the Birmingham Bowl, which recently lost Papa John's as its title sponsor." Approximately 80% of tickets this season will "increase by $10, from $40 to $50." However, Birmingham Bowl Exec Dir Mark Meadows noted the event is "probably still one of the least-expensive bowl games in the market place" (AL.com, 9/1).

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