By Kevin Bergquist
Reprinted from the University Record
Planning is underway for renovations to Michigan Stadium that will improve the game-day experience for U-M football fans, athletic department officials say. But any changes—which will include the addition of enclosed seating in order to fund the project—will respect the tradition and character of the 78-year-old facility.
The University has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from architects to develop a project proposal based on the department’s preferred option. The department hopes to gain approval to proceed with the project from the Board of Regents sometime in 2005.
“The renovations we are discussing will address a wide range of fan needs to enhance a Michigan football Saturday experience for everyone in the Big House,” says Bill Martin, director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “The renovations will mean changes in the stadiumÕs appearance, but we are confident we can work with architects for a tasteful and respectful approach to the work.” Martin said community input will be an important part of this process.
Renovations, officials note, will be guided by the following principles:
Tentative plans call for enclosed seating running the length of the east and west sides of the bowl. In addition, 1,200 new bench seats and 57,000 square feet of additional concourse would be added.
Officials say enclosed seating will be the only reasonable economic approach to fund major stadium renovations. Among the improvements that should be provided by the renovations are more permanent restrooms, more concourses, wider aisles and improved access to seating areas, wider seats, more concession stands, and a new press box.
The press box was built in 1956 and its current location creates obstructed-view seats on the west side of the Stadium.
Statistics provided by athletics show that modern stadiums serving 70,000-80,000 fans typically have 2-3 concourses with ramps, stairs, elevators, rest rooms, first aid and concessions on each level. Michigan Stadium has one main concourse around the perimeter of the facility. A smaller concourse is embedded below the east stands.
Michigan Stadium is the largest on-campus football facility in the nation with a capacity of 107,501. It has not experienced any renovations since an expansion prior to the 1998 season added two video scoreboards and 5,000 additional seats in the north and south end zones.