ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan Board of Regents today (Nov. 17) approved the schematic designs for the renovation of and additions to Michigan Stadium. The designs were developed by HNTB Architecture, assisted by Kallmann McKinnell and Wood Architects.
The 400,000-square-foot additions include two multi-story masonry structures on both the east and west sides of the stadium; the end zones will remain open. The structures, which will stand 10 feet higher than the current scoreboards at their highest point, include 83 suites and 3,200 club seats.
“I am thrilled with the approach our architects have taken,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “In addition to funding improvements to the game-day experience for all fans, this project will provide a strong financial foundation for the competitiveness of Michigan athletics in the decades ahead.”
The designs approved by the Regents were slightly revised from the preliminary designs released to the public in October. The designs were updated based on additional University research and feedback from fans.
“Our alumni and fans feel a strong connection to Michigan Stadium and their experiences in the Big House,” said Athletic Director William C. Martin. “We knew it was important to keep fans informed about the planning and listen to their feedback. Input from our fans has influenced many aspects of the project from beginning to end.”
The Athletic Department has sought public input through the website, a dedicated e-mail address and several ticketholder surveys, as well as in numerous personal meetings with groups of alumni and fans across the country.
Based on public comment and further analysis of the relationship of the towers to the main structure, arches were added to the top of the stair elements of each tower. In addition, the larger portion of each tower that encloses the elevators has been embellished with more brick detail to bring more life to the large areas of brick wall, according to Mike Handelman, project principal for HNTB.
The “M” displayed in the wrought iron fencing in the preliminary designs also has been removed.
“We heard from fans that seat width is an important part of their comfort, but perhaps even more important is that we remain the Big House and do not reduce the number of seats,”
Martin said. “That influenced the trade-offs we made between seat width and capacity.”
When the renovations are complete, the capacity of the Big House will top 108,000.
Increasing the amount of crowd noise inside the Stadium also was an important issue for ticketholders. Martin noted that the new structures will help direct crowd noise back onto the field, providing a greater home-field advantage.
The plans call for buildings to be constructed at the north and south end zones. These buildings will house additional restrooms and concessions, and support functions such as first-aid, police/security and will-call. The structures will be covered in the same brickwork as the new sideline buildings.
“The designs reflect the tradition of Michigan Athletics, and are consistent with our other architecture,” said Martin. “They are similar in style, scale and color to Yost Ice Arena and the Intramural Building.”
Stadium improvements will include an increase in the number and quality of restrooms; more concession stands with a greater variety of fare; wider aisles and slightly wider seats; handrails; additional entry and exit points for improved crowd circulation and safety; and additional dedicated seating for fans with impaired mobility.
When renovations are complete, ticketholders will see a significant increase in the number of restrooms, with women’s toilets increasing by 124 percent and men’s restrooms increasing by 50 percent. Fans will also enjoy 30 percent more permanent points of sale for food concessions.
Almost all seats in the bowl will be widened to some degree. Ticketholders will gain between a quarter of an inch and just over an inch in each seat, depending on where they sit. Seats along the sideline areas will gain the most width because of the shape of the bowl. When the project is completed, seat widths will range from just over 16 inches in the student section to just under 18 inches along the sidelines near the top of the bowl.
Although widening the seats and aisles will result in the loss of some seats, the Athletic Department has planned for these changes so they will not have a significant impact on the seat location of current season ticketholders.
Martin emphasized that accommodations for fans with impaired mobility also was a priority for the University. The renovations will create a significant increase in the number of seats that can accommodate fans in wheelchairs and their companions.
Construction work will be phased over a period of three years in order not to interrupt home football games. It is expected to be completed prior to the 2010 fall football season.
The estimated cost of the project is $226 million. Funding will be provided through private donations and Athletic Department resources, primarily revenues generated by the new seating. Once the costs of the renovation are recovered, revenue from the new seating will be available over the long run to support facilities upgrades and other costs for the 25 men’s and women’s varsity sports.