Dear U-M community members, alumni, and fans:
I am writing to share my thoughts about the renovations planned for Michigan Stadium. I strongly believe this project is in the best long-term interests of the Michigan Athletic Department and the University.
Our stadium is a treasure. Generations of Michigan alumni, students, faculty, staff, and fans have a stake in it—not just in the modern game-day experience, but also in the proud tradition of the Big House and Michigan football. It is precisely because it is so valued that I feel such a deep responsibility to renew its aging infrastructure and attend to the 80-year-old stadium’s most pressing needs.
Most importantly, renovations to the stadium will improve the game-day experience for all our fans. Specific improvements will include an increase in the number and quality of restrooms; an increase in the number of concession stands and a greater variety of fare; widening the aisles and seats and adding handrails; increasing the number of points of entry and exit for improved crowd circulation and safety; a significant expansion of seating for fans with impaired mobility; and the addition of premium seating.
We have been studying these needs and potential solutions for a long time now. Bill Martin and his staff in the Athletic Department have completed the most comprehensive planning process I have ever seen undertaken on a university project. Their extensive research has included surveys of fans and ticketholders, focus groups, market studies, and detailed cost analysis and financial modeling.
Although we considered a number of models for renovating the stadium, we rejected less ambitious efforts because they did not meet all our goals and/or contained considerable financial risk to the University. Building enclosed seating is the only reasonable economic model we have found to pay for the costs involved in a renovation project of this scope and scale. Our very conservative financial planning will support the renovations with the revenue generated by the new seating, without placing an additional burden on either the average ticketholder or on the University’s general fund.
And, once the costs of the renovations are recovered, revenue from the new seating will be available over the long run to support facilities upgrades and other costs for our 25 men’s and women’s varsity sports. Bill and I believe this project is essential to allow us to remain nationally competitive.
The stadium has undergone many significant changes throughout its history, and this project will represent another evolution in its appearance. As the stadium enters this new phase, I will make certain that the renovations are of the highest quality and that the designs respect the stadium’s tradition and character.
There will be many additional opportunities for public input as we finalize the designs and develop more detailed plans. I encourage you to watch our website at MGoBlue.com for updates on the project.
President Mary Sue Coleman