Next Stadium Expansion - The Latest News

Submitted by MichiganPhotoRod on August 19th, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon confirmed with me in a one-on-one interview on media day that a working design is ready for the next stadium expansion, which would start on the south end zone.

The specs include all-bleacher seating, which will rise up to enclose the spaces between the sideline structures to the scoreboard at a height that the scoreboard will appear as if it is "set into" the new seating area.

The design would also make the seating appear like a second deck, as a concourse will be included in the new construction below the new seating.  Brandon said the waiting list for season tickets supports the expansion.

He offered no thoughts on a how soon he would take this project to the Regents for approval.  He said the south end zone expansion would increase the stadium's capacity by 6,000.

This can only mean that a similar NORTH expansion would follow at another time in the future to balance the stadium's appearance from within the bowl.

With this updated information, one can reasonably conclude that including a north expansion of an additional 6,000 seats, we can project the capacity of Michigan Stadium will eventually increase to at or near 122,000 (and 1).




August 19th, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

There is a limit both in terms of the number of fans who will make the pilgramage as well as the capacity of the roads.  I think, compared to many other schools, Ann Arbor does a good job of clearing the town after a game.   I haven't been at State College for a couple of years, but the last time I went there, it was awful.  Ditto for Purdue....takes hours to be able to drive around without traffic., In most cases, two hours or even less after a game, Ann Arbor is easily navigable by car.  

Sitting in Row 120 or whatever the number will be, will be pretty far from the field.


August 19th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

Part of that might be the town itself.  First of all, Ann Arbor has freeways going in 4 directions, so you have people heading north and south on Main and east and west on Stadium leaving the game - they aren't all heading to the same on-ramp.  Also, West Lafayette and State College are far smaller towns, so not only are more people making a longer drive home (Chicago and Indy for PU and Pittsburgh and Philly for PSU) and therefore need to get going, but there is less to stay and do in the town. 

Not to mention a lot of the people at UM games are people from in and around AA who either walk from their homes or park at their offices downtown and walk.  Just they way AA and UM are, the traffic will never be as bad as some of the other Big Ten schools, including the ones you're mentioning.


August 19th, 2011 at 1:52 PM ^

West Lafayette is carved out of the Lafayette area which is actually almost 200,000.  The difference is the easy access to the interstate and 23, which you noted.  I am always amazed at how well traffic flows in Ann Arbor, although I didn't feel that way after the MSU game last year when I spent two hours going three blocks on Hill Street.


August 19th, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

I love the idea of expansion and am glad that the season ticket waiting list shows statistics that all Brandon to believe that we can support this expansion.  However, can we?  Its not exactly difficult to get on the season ticket waiting list.  You pay $10 one time and then you sit there and wait.  I am hopeful that they take this into consideration and not automatically count anyone who has not signed up over the past 4-5 years.  I would assume that the percentage of people that signed up 10 years ago and would still purchase tickets is pretty low.  Although, I could certainly be wrong on this.

Another bad thing is that I personally love how difficult Michigan Season tickets and some tickets in general are to obtain.  The game, the tailgating and the complete overall experience are what make Michigan games great but bottled into this experience is the fact that "I have a ticket to a Michigan football game".  As a season ticket holder nothing would change for me however, I wonder if it would become "easy" to get season tickets or tickets in general.

Wolverine Pride

August 19th, 2011 at 1:31 PM ^

Hope they are considering additional parking somewhere with any new expansion.  I would be willing to pay a premium to park in the biggest tailgate lot next to the biggest stadium in the country.


August 19th, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

I know at the medical campus they're removing many of the staff parking spots to make room for patient parking at the new Mott children's hospital.

On game day, we always park on one of the structures on South U and enjoy the walk through campus.  It really sucks walking back to the car after a loss though.

Section 1

August 19th, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

But nobody ever talks about more and better parking.

We need much better parking for the entire athletic campus.

And there are at least a couple of obvious choices.  One is the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club.  There is nothing significant about the club, or its golf course.  But it is already a virtual parking lot for football.

Then there is the University of Michigan Golf Course.  And there is about as much of a chance of anybody "paving over" that, as there is of bulldozing Michigan Stadium and playing all home games in the Silverdome.  The Michigan Golf Course is a 1930's Alister McKenzie-Perry Maxwell design.  As such, it is like a Rembrandt in the world of golf course architecture.  But one of the dirty little secrets in golf is that thanks to ball-and equipment technology, classic golf courses all over the world are rapidly being made obsolete by modern players.  The Michigan Golf Course is dangerously close to being too short for modern intercollegiate golf.  And the design is one in which it is really hard to adjust.  There's no more rooom to move the tees on most of the holes, and it is really too bad that the property doesn't have more acreage to allow for that.  The USGA has to do something about equipment standards.

Now back to parking.  I've always been mystified how it is that the commercial businesses that line the railroad tracks to the east of the stadium have kept their places.  I figured that they must have had either some personal dirt on the Regents, or else somebody with the wherewithal to hold out for a zillion dollars to hang on to those parcels.

It is just so completely obvious, that somethig needs to be done, to build a world-class parking structure with a pedestrian bridge back over to the Yost/Ray Fisher/Oosterbaan/Glick side of the tracks.  But you never hear Martin, or Brandon, or anybody else ever talk about it.

Bando Calrissian

August 19th, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

Bingo on parking.  That's the HUGE issue here.  And seems nowhere close to being resolved.

I've long advocated for a multi-story parking structure at the back of the Blue Lot near the walls to the practice fields.  It just makes sense, and opens up the Blue Lot to everyone who (by rights of Victors Club membership level) should be in the Blue Lot.  And eases the burden on the Gray Lot and elsewhere.  As it is, there's already planned to be a huge shakeup of Blue Lot parking after this season, with more and more people being bounced out after parking there for decades.  Always someone who wants to give more, no accounting for decades of loyalty.  And less spots than ever before in that lot.

I mean, you go to places like Penn State and even to a certain degree Michigan State, and their parking organization and availability is miles above what it is here.  It's almost embarrassing.  Now, granted, those are two different campuses with a lot more open space, but it's a pretty ridiculous fact of life in Ann Arbor that we've gone all-in on stadium expansion, and have in fact -reduced- our parking availability.  Remember, there's no more parking on Elbel this year, and a huge chunk of the Blue Lot got eaten up by the basketball facilities expansion.  Not to mention the probably extraneous allotment of parking spaces in the Blue Lot and Buffalo Lot for suite and club seating folks.


As for the businesses by the railroad tracks, especially Fingerle, it's my understanding those buildings are built on some kind of former stream or riverbed, and there's limits on what can be built there.  There were rumors three or four years ago that Fingerle had sold off to the AD and there was going to be some kind of athletics facility (outdoor swimming pool seems to come to mind) put in its place, but nothing ever came of it.  

Section 1

August 19th, 2011 at 3:18 PM ^




And yes.

I am always surprised at how the University gets people to go to hockey games at Yost at all; the parking is so shitty.  Basketball parking is a bitch, too, whenever we sell out games, like we did in, say, 1993.  A whole gneration has grown up since then.  And we have actually reduced the available Blue Lot parking with the new basketball player development center.  (Inevitably, "the Martin Center," right?  Or the Cazzie Russell Center?)  And they are expanding handicapped parking all the time, thanks to ADA compliance and related concerns.

Anyway, Bando is totally on the money here.  There are lots of Victors Club members who are rightfully hacked off about Michigan's crummy parking situation. 

Michigan Arrogance

August 19th, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

I have gone to hockey games at Yost for over a decade (not counting as a student) and NEVER had a problem parking.


Also, I didn't see the link to the FREEP supporting the removal of parking spaces in A2. I just assume you forgot to link it?  jk, man.

Michigan Arrogance

August 19th, 2011 at 6:00 PM ^

On White one block over from Yost. I do get there early b/c sitting in Yost watching warm ups about an hour before the game while eating BTB is pretty much my favorite thing to do.*

Either that or at a meter up State St north of Yost.

* besides spending QT with the fam, of course.

Bando Calrissian

August 19th, 2011 at 7:04 PM ^

Most games, if you get there a half hour before game time, you can pay five bucks and park in the Yost lot.  If you don't, you can park in one of the neighborhoods (which are normally pretty clear to park in on a Friday or Saturday evening), you can park at a meter anywhere around there (no fee post-6PM), you can park in one of the University lots nearby (post-5PM on Friday/all day on the weekends), etc. etc.

There really isn't a problem for parking at Yost for your average hockey game.  At all.  Lots of options, minimal walking.

Section 1

August 19th, 2011 at 9:30 PM ^

I meant University/Athletic Department lots.  Like what is the Gray Lot for football.  You guys no doubt go to more hockey games than I do.  I have always tried to park inside the general Ferry Field environs first, and then just panic in a rage when I find it all filled.  More recently, I go have cocktails downtown, and then just take a cab from there. 


August 19th, 2011 at 3:18 PM ^

But being at the top of a parking structure after a Michigan Football game sounds like one of the 7 levels of Hell to me.  But then, if the alternative is parking on Central Campus when you can't walk so well, I can see the desire.

As long as it's only open during football Saturday's...they're already paranoid enough to patrol the bridge to keep people from looking in on practice, they don't need to be scouting the higher levels of a structure.  ;-)


August 19th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

A certain community subset will actively oppose on environmental grounds any permanent parking facility that scales to meet peak demand.  So too on revenue grounds will the folks who rent their yards and like private space on game day.  Many vested interests entrenched over the decades; we were having identical discussions under Bo, Canham and Shapiro back in the day and look where we are now.

True Blue Grit

August 19th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

This is a perfect place to put the opposing team fans.  The further away from the field the better.  But, I think this expansion should put us in the "untouchable" range of stadium size in the college football arms race.  And in this arms race, there's no prize for 2nd place. 


August 19th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^


Somewhat troubled though by Brandon's plan to exhume and bronze Bo holding a football over head and gesturing with the other hand "you want a piece of THIS" and situating him over south scoreboard as our own version of Touchdown Jesus.  That's good marketing in the pizza world but a questionable play in the college football business.


August 19th, 2011 at 3:23 PM ^

Because I'm really not going to like the look of the Stadium when it's a...horseshoe.  Even beyond looking like someone else, I've never particularly like offset Stadiums, and the perfection of the bowl with expansions has been great. They managed to make it look beautiful still with the new boxes, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.  And it'll be nice when the endzones of the Stadium are bricked in and the last of that ugly metal work and siding will be covered up.  Preferably buried wherever the halo went.


August 19th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

I would like to see ivy strung up the stadium walls.  Ivy says "academy" to me.  It should soften the brick to metal transitions.  That might be a maintenance nightmare however.


August 19th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

want to see anything that reminds me of the Cubs.  I like the way the stadium looks.  I am not a credible source though, last time I was there it was when I was on the sidelines at the Michigan BSU game when Hart made, like his only fumble ever (it was ruled a safety.)  I guess when I think ivy I think Wrigley, and I hate the Cubs, so my opinion shouldn't matter.


August 19th, 2011 at 8:37 PM ^

I don't agree with a lot of what Brandon does, but I'm all for this.  I don't think you have to sell out every game to justify any stadium's capicity, and would like to see it reach 140,000 in the next ten years.  

Bando Calrissian

August 19th, 2011 at 8:49 PM ^

There's absolutely no way the infrastructure exists around Michigan Stadium to sustain 140,000 people without some serious, serious changes.  That includes traffic, the concourse, and parking.  Not to mention with the two colossal structures, there's no way you'd be able to do these row expansions in the endzones AND do decks over the top.  140k simply will not happen.  At some point, we're going to reach the maximum, and it seems to me that's going to be when the endzones are fully enclosed.

Wolverine Devotee

August 19th, 2011 at 9:08 PM ^

Need parking structures somewhere. One thing The Big House NEEDS around the concourse are bronze statues of Yost,Crisler, and Bo. Put one at each gate and rename Varsity Plaza to Schembechler Plaza and etc. The fourth statue for the fourth gate is one I'm having trouble with thinking of. Maybe Ufer?


August 19th, 2011 at 11:00 PM ^

The structure/seats surrounding the scoreboards will look awesome.  Good post, and description.

I don't mind them doing it incrementally.  It is important that every seat be sold and filled.  Empty seats around the scoreboards just wouldn't look right.


August 21st, 2011 at 7:45 AM ^

I love that we're expanding again. Saying that  this has nothing to do with season ticket demand is stupid. It has everything to do with season ticket demand. Brandon realizes that these seats will instantly be filled, and that's money we're losing right now.

Wishing they will widen the seats in the Big House is also dumb. Yeah, everyone would love some more space, but that would lose money for the University. They are going in the other direction, and they won't sacrifice thousands of seats for comfort. Think about it like it's your business and the lightbulb might flick on.


August 21st, 2011 at 2:06 PM ^

They're going to widen the seats.  That's a given.  You'd better believe that as ticket prices have increased, the AD has heard a lot of grumbling from fans complaining that they don't have enough space.  Taking care of the people who already are buying tickets (as opposed to hypothetical future purchasers) is their top priority, as it should be. 


Maize and Blue…

August 21st, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

They could have sold more season tickets this year, but you don't get off the waitlist unless you donate.  DB got greedy and saw a way to make more money selling 4 game packs and jacking up the fee associated with each pack purchase.  We only have three games sold out at this point and you can get the games not sold out for below face on the secondary market so I doubt they will sell out with the exception of Purdue because it's homecoming.

For someone so concerned about branding the four game packs idea was not all that smart IMHO.  DB could have offerred those who had non renewable (yes I was one) season tickets the last two years the same opportunity before offering the four game packs and there would be fewer "little game" seats available.


August 22nd, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

No.  The extra seat is in honor of Fritz Crisler.



"Dedicated on Sept. 22, 1956, the press box and the additional seating constructed along with it increased the capacity of Michigan Stadium to 101,001. This began a tradition of ending all Michigan Stadium capacity numbers with the digit “1,” the extra seat being in honor of Fritz Crisler, the director of athletics at the time."