May 17th, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

I think the Pioneer lot is considered worse because although you are physically closer to the stadium than the Grey Lot, you have to cross the street (South Main or Stadium) to get to the game.

I'm not a fan of the fact that priority points will only be evaluated every other year for parking lot advancement. When I went on my tour of the suites and club seats I was told that within 5 years the Blue lot will only be for club seat and box seat holders. Because of the huge PSD required (that counts toward money given) the priority points for those seat holders will increase exponentially as compared to regular season ticket holders who are not large financial contributors.

There will be a lot of people in the next two years that will be displaced from their long standing parking places in the Blue lot at Crisler. I hope the A.D. is ready for the firestorm it will creat among the Michigan faithful.

The University has chosen $$$ over longevity as a fan and ticket holder.


May 17th, 2010 at 9:16 AM ^

The University has chosen $$$ over longevity as a fan and ticket holder.

Your point being? ALL college athletics programs do that now. Do you want to have modern, competitive facilities and the occasional MNC chance, or do you want to respect the people who have been coming for years on the minimum possible donation? Many schools don't even have enough area parking for the donors at all. At some, even pretty good donors are paying $20 to park in some guy's yard near the stadium.


May 17th, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

Years ago when donations to the athletic department were scarce there were some promises made by the University. I don't know how they will be able to provide spaces to the new suite/club seat holders and keep the spaces of the permanent Blue lot victor's club members. Do they do it through attrition? My point was that it seems to be more of a case of "what have you done for me lately?' rather than "what have you done for me ever?"

Bando Calrissian

May 17th, 2010 at 9:28 AM ^

Not to mention the University made a commitment to permanent Blue Lot parking for a lot of people who became Life Members of the Victors Club in the early 80's ($10,000 donation), and is now reneging on that for the suite holders.  There were never that many of them, only enough to fill a few rows of parking in the Crisler lot, but there's still quite a few of those people left, and if they haven't bought a suite, they're going to be booted?  Even if they have paperwork telling them otherwise?

The lack of loyalty the Athletic Department has shown to longtime Victors Club members during the last several years has been pretty amazing.  Money is one thing, but completely ignoring promises made to people because others give more now is another. 

Section 1

May 17th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

It's a very, very big problem, and will be a huge problem for the next couple of years.

When Bill Martin was trying to sell the Stadium renovation to doubting elements within the University, I told him that he had turned my negativity around 180 degrees, and he had succeeded in thoroughly convincing me of the rightness of the entrie Stadium renovation.  There was no greater proponent of the Stadium renovation than Bo Schembechler, by the way.

But I asked Martin at the time -- What about Blue Lot parking?  You've got loyal alums and donors there, for whom a big part of the game day experience is in the Blue Lot.  What are you going to do, when you are forced to concede so much parking to suite occupants?  You'll displace some of your most loyal patrons if you do that.  Martin had no answer; being the honest and smart guy that he is, he said, "That's an excellent question; we have to figure that out, and it won't be easy."

And here's an additionally ironic point.  The Blue Lot is obviously the best tailgating location.  But suite patrons have the least need, perhaps no need, for a nearby tailgating location!  Why?  They have suites to go to!  They'll park, and immediately go on up to their suites to enjoy catered food.  (Although no alcohol, and no post-game victory cigars.)  Will we see, someday, a mostly-sterile Blue Lot, full of nothing but parked, locked, empty Lexuses, with their occupants up in their suites?

The Crisler Arena renovation and the Basketball Players' facility have only exacerbated what is already a bad situation.  Bill Martin's tenure was brilliant in terms of renovating our athletic facilities.  But the one unanswered question, and the one grossly neglected need, is parking.  Parking sucks for football.  Parking sucks for hockey.  Baseball might well draw a lot more people, if there were better parking and some baseball-tailgating.

My own radical suggestion was to tear down Crisler; build a new arena on North Campus, on the site of the old Pfizer labs.  Create a kind of "Palace of Washtenaw County."  With a world-class basketball player development center.  And then expand football parking where Crisler now sits.  Maybe, build a parking structure, if it could be made to look like the best structure in the world and fit in with the Stadium.)  I think I might have been the only one to like that idea.  But why not think big?  Big ideas are where big things, like Big Houses, come from?  Build a people-mover, linking the North Campus basketball center, and Central Campus, and the Athletic campus.  You then have mutliplied all of the parking benefits of both centers.

Oh, and about the Gray Lot versus the Purple Lot.  The main thing is this; for people driving to Ann Arbor from the Detroit Area and especially Oakland County, it is not easy getting to the Purple Lot on game day.  You have to go to the opposite (southwest) side of the Stadium from where you are coming from, which is the northeast.  It is a remarkably crummy option; inconvenient and bad for traffic flow.  Nothing against the Purple lot of course.  If you are coming from Chelsea, Saline, Jackson, Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids, it is an entirely different equation, and the Purple Lot is a good facility.

Bando Calrissian

May 17th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

If you want a preview for what a Suite-filled Blue Lot will be, look at the Champions Lot right next to the tunnel, which are assigned spaces to specific big donors.  The rest of the Blue Lot is filling up by 8 or 9AM, even for a 3:30 game, and the Champions Lot will be mostly empty until about an hour or less before gametime.  No tailgating, nothing.  And especially now that there's going to be an entrance to those suites where all you have to do is walk up to the little door, get in the elevator, and you're in Football Valhalla, especially with the suites opening up (so I've heard) 3 hours before gametime...  There won't be any tailgating.  And all of us who have spent our lives in the Blue Lot tailgating around the same people week in and week out are going to be displaced to the Gray Lot or elsewhere, where we have to start anew or displace other people's traditional tailgate locations.

I think you're on to something with the structure idea.  I've been kicking around that idea in my head for a little bit, and to me there's no reason they can't build a structure in the back of the Blue Lot over by the back entrance to the football practice fields.  About 4 levels of parking back there would alleviate a LOT of problems.  And it's not in an area where it's blocking sightlines to anything, being obtrusive to anything, etc. etc.  It's just a big square of land hanging out back there.  It's a winner for football AND basketball, and with a proper walkway, could be helpful for hockey as well.

Bando Calrissian

May 17th, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

For those negging my comments, you have to remember there was a time when very, very few people were donating to the Athletic Department.  By the end of the 70's, it was clear the University needed to catch up on a LOT of projects left lingering over the years.  And the money had to come from somewhere.  So the Victors Club was born.  Think about the infrastructure improvements and new facilities that happened in the 1980's and early 90's.  Oosterbaan.  The Track and Tennis Building.  Canham Natatorium.  Weidenbach Hall.  Schembechler Hall.  The list goes on and on and on.

The Victors Club began with a very small group of people.  In fact, they were all men, until one pioneering woman decided she wanted in, too (she's still somewhat active, at least was a few years back the last time I went to the Victors Club Luncheon).  The annual Luncheon used to be small enough that it could be held in a small conference room in Crisler Arena. 

That small group of donors built the nucleus of the very, very large endowment the Athletic Department has today, and set the tone for the kinds of projects, like the Stadium renovation, we take for granted today.  And there was very little difference in the way people were treated, from the person who gave the minimum for life membership to the person who gave 6 or 7 figures--everyone was a member, everyone had the same brass slab of a membership card, and everyone was given that core group of benefits, one of which was a parking place in the Blue Lot.

Over the years, the Athletic Department has slowly whittled that away, introducing a points system, making it difficult to get away game tickets, showing a cold and distant attitude towards those who donated in the past than those who donated much, much more in the present.  The commitment was made to these people, and the Athletic Department has tried its best to back out of those things.  And we're not talking a lot of people here, either.  It's not that much of a stretch to think that they could very easily continue those commitments if they wanted to and STILL be able to give the kind of attention they want to give to big donors.  Yet under Bill Martin, as Section 1 alluded to, it became less and less of a priority.

I mean, I'll give a small example:  It used to be that Victors Club members got media guides every year for whatever sports you wanted.  You went to Weidenbach, told them what you wanted, and you got them.  Or you'd get an order form in the mail and you'd get them mailed to you.  Then they started saying "you get 3 sports."  OK, that's reasonable, most of us only got football, basketball, and hockey anyway.  Then a couple years before they stopped printing them, we didn't get our order form.  So we called.  "You don't have enough points to qualify for media guides.  Have a nice day."  (click)  But we're Life Members...  That was included.  They have rooms full of these things.  You're telling me they can't honor a substantial donation with a football, basketball, and hockey media guide that probably costs them all of $3 total?  Yep, we get it.

So that's where we're coming from on this.  For a lot of folks, that parking spot next to the Stadium is the last major perk they have, the one part of their gameday experience they hold dearer than anything else.  They put the money into it, and were promised it was theirs.  Promises are promises, and for the Athletic Department, this isn't a big one to honor.