Luxury In Progress

Submitted by Brian on August 27th, 2009 at 12:06 PM


So yesterday I tagged along on the tour of the new Michigan Stadium suites/pressboxes/tradition imploders that spurred today's flurry of articles on the things. Favorite bit of opinion:

It's hard to believe that only two summers ago, a segment of Michigan supporters ardently opposed this project, that the group called Save The Big House formed and worried luxury boxes desecrating a timeless landmark.

The Big House was indeed saved, not by groups stuck in the past, but by Bill Martin and his construction shovels.

From the exterior, Michigan Stadium had become dumpy and dated. The interior had become known for its crowded walkways, long lines and cramped seating.

Watching a game at The Big House may have evoked some sort of nostalgia for fans, but using the stadium in a practical sense had become somewhat of a miserable experience.

That's's Dave Birkett. Obviously, I'm with him. I'm not sure how anyone can see the gorgeous brick exterior going up and think that tin walls that were so plain that someone thought slapping a halo on them would be a good idea were better.

Tim has a bunch of pictures below and some key numbers, including the number of commitments they have for the 82 suites (58). That's 70% full; club seats are in the 60-70% claimed. That sounds well on its way to selling out, but it seems like that number hasn't budged in a while. Not that selling suites in the face of a 3-9 season and the END OF AMERICA is an easy thing.

My impressions, which are based entirely on a comparison with a Tiger Stadium suite I was in earlier this year because of corporate ticket fatigue:

  • They are swank. The Tigers' digs aren't particularly old but they suffer in comparison: granite versus 50's-era laminate countertops, flatscreens versus tube TVs that seem like they're from the 50s.
  • They are way less inconvenient. If you don't want to order 80 bucks worth of food at a Tigers' game you have to hoof it down to the plebes and get a taco salad or whatever and miss at least a half-inning. I assume this won't be a problem at Michigan since there should be points of sale on that level if the food doesn't come with your 70k.
  • The bathroom thing is a little odd. One advantage for the Tigers: you get your own bathroom; here you get access to a bunch of concourse bathrooms only the patricians can access. That might be better, I guess, since I assume the bathrooms will be so plentiful that one will always be open and that might not be the case in a sixteen-person suite.

There was a fierce debate about whether or not the window configuration—you can open them—blocks line of sight. A lot of media members thought it did but since we were all standing up I think maybe it's not a problem when you're seated. It's probably a ton better than the Tigers, who inexplicably put unnecessary pieces of metal directly in your LOS.

They also showed us around the club seats underneath the new structures. If a magic fairy came down and told me I could sit anywhere in the premium seating I wanted and if I didn't he'd shoot me* I'd probably go with those. They sit below an overhang, which should keep rain and less pleasant things off and also make the stadium seem electrically loud—the Tiger suite had a similar noise-catching configuration and it was surprisingly lively. They've also got access to an air-conditioned Donor Whose Name I Forgot Lounge that's got bathrooms and points of sale and whatnot. But I have different requirements than men in suits with 55-85k.

Speaking of: yes, 55-85k "gift" per suite, which is approximately $5.7 million per year without considering the 3000 club seats. This thing is going to be a money factory. And now I realize there's a word for "money factory": mint. If only I had the power to delete.

Oh also noes! The day's most-discussed topic:


They're switching from Pepsi to Coke, which several eagle-eyed reporters picked out. I wouldn't have been able to tell you which company had the previous contract.

Greg also points out something I noticed and winced at as we clambered up the stairs:

Crisler looks sadder and sadder with every new touch they put on the renovation.  That place has got to go.

Looking out the window of the brick, glass, and class structure being erected, Crisler looked dingy and old. A new practice facility will help, but only so much.

BONUS rumor debunk/start! Debunk: the classic art deco lettering on top of the press box is going to be saved but they don't know what they're going to do with it. It had previously been rumored to be headed for the entrance tunnel.

Start: I heard tell there are vague plans for another 27 rows in the endzones at some indeterminate future date in case Beaver Stadium ever gets uppity.

Thing that wasn't even a rumor but I asked about anyway, mostly in jest: there are no plans to but bleachers on top of the new luxury box structures.

*(The family heirlooms are season tickets that have been in continuous use since the 50s; they are good seats.)


Durham Blue

August 27th, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

I saw them 'live and in person' for the first time a few weeks ago. I was extremely impressed at how they enhance the look of the stadium. They make the stadium look much bigger and more imposing in many ways. In addition, I am in favor of anything that helps to reflect the noise of 100,000+ and amplify the SPL.

Court Wenley

August 27th, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

Once that anti-coke group finds out what the athletic department has done, you'll get to read about how Coca-Cola executes workers by drowning them in Diet Coke. They should have gone with Faygo.


August 27th, 2009 at 12:19 PM ^

If the WLA does fund raisers, like the one when you were in Egypt, once a week or so, maybe we can rake in enough for an MGoBlog suite.

Lets Do It!!!

Sgt. Wolverine

August 27th, 2009 at 12:21 PM ^

The bathroom configuration is a little weird; even JLA -- which definitely wasn't built for any sort of luxury ever -- has a bathroom in each suite. Is this truly an oddity, or do other stadiums have community bathrooms for their suites?


August 27th, 2009 at 1:06 PM ^

Bathrooms in Luxury Suites is a given in all stadium construction since at least the early 90's. We're talking colleges, minor leagues, professional ranks--every luxury suite has its own bathroom. Odd that they decided not to go that route with these, the exclusive yet communal bathroom is more of a "club level" amenity. In fact, part of the appeal to having a suite is not having to leave your suite, and especially not to go to the bathroom.


August 27th, 2009 at 12:25 PM ^

I heard tell there are vague plans for another 27 rows in the endzones at some indeterminate future date in case Beaver Stadium ever gets uppity.

This is great news. My biggest fear about the renovations always was losing the ability to expand.


August 27th, 2009 at 12:35 PM ^

No doubt about it, Coke products kick the shit out of Pepsi. Sole exception: Mt. Dew. That's not even close to enough to overcome my love (addiction?) for the DC.

M Squared

August 27th, 2009 at 12:46 PM ^

In addition to what Brian wrote, each commitment must last a minimum of 3 years. So, given that it is still a year away and the economy is in the toilet, Bill Martin seems to have executed this well.


August 27th, 2009 at 12:46 PM ^

If you go to the following website you can see the construction Web cams:

From the looks of the one facing NW, it looks like they were testing the lights on the existing press box last night. What do you think of the possibility, now that we have big structures that line the field, that we add lights in the future for night games?

Playing a night game in 2013 against ND early in the season could be a recruiting bonanza...

Beware the Otter

August 27th, 2009 at 1:36 PM ^

The new sideline structures were designed with areas on top for platforms that could hold lights. In construction this is called an alternate (an optional thing that the owner can buy if they feel like it). As of right now the University has not purchased this alternate but in the future they might put them in.


August 27th, 2009 at 1:18 PM ^

Texas has completed another phase of renovation to the south endzone stands at Texas Memorial Stadium, bringing them to 100,113 in capacity. Combined with Tennessee's loss in capacity at Neyland Stadium (due to on-going renovations similar to ours), this puts Texas 4th in College Football Stadium capacity (Penn St 107,282, Michigan 106,201, Ohio St 102,329, Texas).

Largest North American Stadiums by Capacity:

Despite having less capacity than PSU, Michigan actually out-drew them 108,571 to 108,253 last season, to again lead the nation.

Texas has plans to eventually double-deck this south endzone (no funding yet), and claims that it would put them at 115,500.

Also, Alabama has joined the capacity "arms race", and is double-decking their south endzone (the north has already been done) to bring them up to 101,000 by Sep 2010.


August 27th, 2009 at 1:18 PM ^

Your "men suits with 55k-85k" reminded me of the classic Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry are waiting to pitch NBC on their show about nothing. George is nervous and pale about meeting with suits:

JERRY: (To himself) Salsa, seltzer. Hey, excuse me, you got any salsa? No, not selzer, salsa. (George doesn't react) What's the matter?

GEORGE: (Nervous) Nothing.

JERRY: You sure? You look a little pale.

GEORGE: No, I'm fine. I'm good. I'm very good.

JERRY: What, are you nervous?

GEORGE: No, not nervous. I'm good, very good. (A beat, then he snaps) I can't do this! Can't do this!

JERRY: What?

GEORGE: I can't do this! I can't do it. I have tried. I'm here. It's impossible.

JERRY: This was your idea!

GEORGE: What idea? I just said something. I didn't know you were going to listen to me!

JERRY: Dont' worry about it. They're just TV executives.

GEORGE: They're men with jobs, Jerry! They wear suits and ties. They're married, they have secretaries!

I used to often feel like that before I got all of those things, and still do sometimes.


August 27th, 2009 at 1:50 PM ^

There is one drawback, and only one, to having a bathroom right in the suite.

If you have to take a dump, everybody knows and you are doomed to a walk of shame.

I was in a suite in JLA once and something I ate for dinner went right through my system. But I held it until after the game to avoid stinking up the suite. Misery.


August 27th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

In my mind, that lettering (and the eagle that sits on top of the press box) has to be the throughput to the finished product. As to where they will go, I don't know, but I know I want to see them in Michigan Stadium in 2010.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 27th, 2009 at 1:59 PM ^

1. There's a reason they call it Jack 'n Coke. It's Jack in Coke. Jack in Pepsi just doesn't cut it (for those of us who like to put a little fun in the cup).

2. A second deck around the north and south endzones would be awesome. Hey Yost dreamed about it, right?

oriental andrew

August 27th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

do 15 of my closest friends want to go in on a suite with me? Only $3500 each for the cheapest one! And do these suites also come with food and parking for the rather hefty "donations?"


August 27th, 2009 at 3:27 PM ^

Sweet sweet pepsi. But Coke is better for mixed drinks. Thankfully, it looks like they have cherry coke in that picture which is my go to coke product.


August 27th, 2009 at 4:24 PM ^

Does anyone know whether or not they're going to put the pennants with all the Big Ten teams up when they're done with the construction, I always liked those