Hindsight: Stadium construction/expansion

Submitted by backtoblu on July 25th, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Had a random thought earlier as I driving past the Big House.  I remembered back to the mid-2000s when talk about adding suites and changing the stadium was in full force.  A lot of people didn't want to see the stadium changed from it's iconic simplicity.  I remember a lot of friends and alums were joining groups on Facebook like "Say no to changing the Big House" and things like that.  So I thought it would be interesting to check back in and see where people stood now.  How did you feel back then?  Now that we see the final product (or close the final product if future plans are any indication), how do you feel about what has been done?  Has your mind been changed?

I guess I took kind of a business approach to it back then and saw how many other stadiums were adding them and thought we should.  It could be a way to bring in a lot of money.  Where things stand now, I think it was definitely the right decision.  The stadium has never looked better (or been louder!) in my mind and I'm really happy things came out the way they did.



July 25th, 2013 at 11:34 PM ^

We could expand/enclose the endzones with scoreboards on top and brick it all round like Kinnick http://graphics.fansonly.com/schools/iowa/graphics/kinnick/rendering-580.gif or better yet Doak Campbell http://football.ballparks.com/NCAA/ACC/FloridaState/front.jpg

Texas could reach 115,000+ with the south endzone enclosed at DKR http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/5732/212262664wrliehph5id.jpg

Space Coyote

July 26th, 2013 at 9:03 AM ^

But are you being sarcastic or not? It certainly looks a lot like Michigan stadium and it certainly wouldn't be the first stadium to be modeled after the big house (ND, I think Oregon's Autzen stadium was originally, though it looks nothing like it now).

Interestingly enough, Michigan Stadium was at least partially inspired by the Yale Bowl. While the 'Shoe was at least partially modeled after Harvard Stadium. The hatrid runs deep there.

Old Autzen was pretty awesome

And you can at least see the a similarity in the non-expansion part


July 26th, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

The engineer credited with designing Lambeau was a UM grad. I think the main similarities are the use of a sunken bowl to create its sightlines and the continuing use of bleachers. 

Lambeau didn't have Michigan Stadium's symmetry of having the bowl go completely around at the same level when it was dedicated in 1957.


 I remember something about Michigan using Lambeau's atrium renovation/expansion as a model for their own expansion, but can't find anything.

The new "upper deck" expansion at Lambeau, created by filling in the open end, is really ugly, though, both from inside the stadium and from the surrounding areas. It makes me hope that they never pursue the rumored expansion to 120,000.

Section 1

July 26th, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

Not now, not ever I hope and expect.

What Brandon is working on is an extension of the bowl in the South endzone.  No "decks."  Apart from the fact that we already have too little parking, and probably not enough ticket-demand, and despite the fact that those seats will suck, with every appearance of watching the game from Monroe County, Brandon will probably do it.  The final structure will look like a continuation of the East and West concourses, but with seats (about 25 rows?) instead of glassed-in boxes.

I am not thrilled.

But I will keep an open mind, since as noted above I changed my mind very early on, when I heard all of the evidence and saw the final plans for the Concourses.


July 25th, 2013 at 11:12 PM ^

to take someone there for the first time and watching them as they struggle to understand how that little place can hold so many people, and then seeing their eyes opened wide as they began to get a view of the bowl through a the doorway.


July 25th, 2013 at 11:26 PM ^

I still remember how it boggled my mind when I entered for my first game my freshman year. I had never been to or watched a Michigan game before that and the outside is/was pretty unsuspecting, then walking in through the doorways I couldn't believe how huge it was. I really felt like my eyes were having trouble focusing/grasping what was there


July 25th, 2013 at 11:38 PM ^

Really?  I think I would agree if they were just rectangle-shaped and flat in front, but I think the way they are angled makes them look great.  The bricking around the outside looks better than I thought it would and I think the (angled) boxes are a great way to "close in" the stadium when you see it from inside.


July 25th, 2013 at 11:35 PM ^

I think I understood both arguments back then so I was kind of conflicted.  I appreciated the tradition but I like new, flashy things too.  I had confidence that IF the administration decided to build it, it would look great and I think it turned out absolutely great.

Section 1

July 26th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

I meant to put up his name when I was writing a reply posted above.

I don't know if he's changed his opinion.  But one thing for sure is that John Pollack found a local press that was thrilled to put him on the front pages to gin up a fight.  The Detroit Free Press and the New York Times together loved stories with that guy.

Section 1

July 26th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

Thank you thank you thank you for linking that!

How freaked would Brian have been, way back in his 2007 blogspot days, and in the midst of a lawsuit against the University of Michigan by the Law Offices of Sam Bernstein, to know that one day, Regents Cathy White and Larry Deitch would be joined on the Board by none other than Mark Bernstein? 


July 25th, 2013 at 11:42 PM ^

I like it but the bare spot beneath the suite windows looks odd to me. A while back someone posted an MS Paint mockup of what it would look like if the words "The University of Michigan" were painted in that space. It looked great. I very much hope the University does something like that eventually.


July 25th, 2013 at 11:51 PM ^

I was for it, but for a season extremely angry because they arbitrarily decided to isolate some of us UM-Dearborn students during one year of the construction. I won't hold that against the construction itself  however, which is beautiful and awesome.

The commenters above also reminded me of the first time I walked through the tunnel into the student section in '05. It was absolute awe, I can still feel the shivers sent down my spine.


July 25th, 2013 at 11:57 PM ^

And love it! The press box is great! Working for espn/abc/Btn, the new press box is the best. So much more room. The camera angles are not as good as before, but not bad. Love working there and going as a fan when I am not working. Love working at crisler too. Great for tv


July 26th, 2013 at 12:06 AM ^

As a rebellious student I was against it at the time.  I've seen the error of my ways, but there was something to be said for the egality of the bowl that no longer exists.


July 26th, 2013 at 12:08 AM ^

I've never been opposed to expansions or general improvements.  But I've always had a problem with the addition of club seating, luxury boxes, and other forms of wealth stratification into what by rights is a public good.   The revenue that those features generate is probably necessary to remain competitive in today's college football arms race, but IMO the stadium was better when everybody's seat was a cold, hard bench, and when the primary determinant of that seat's location wasn't wealth, but the longevity of one's devotion to the program. 


July 26th, 2013 at 9:03 AM ^

that extra space you had next to you was because the big dogs were back in the box with mary Sue, and Bill.

The stratefication was there, just less obvious. While, I'd like to experience a game from a box or up there somewhere - I still think the best seat in the house is down in the bowl with the commoners. It is how Yost intended it to be.


July 26th, 2013 at 1:37 AM ^

Since I went to a few games as a child in the mid and late 70s, then was a student in the early to mid 80s, but I have to admit, the new look is great. I'm hoping I can make a trip up for the CMU game.

Bando Calrissian

July 26th, 2013 at 2:20 AM ^

Wasn't really in favor of it then, and I'm not in favor of it now. Sure, it really does look great, but it isn't the Michigan Stadium I know and love.

I miss the magic of the subterranean bowl, that little deception that made it look like the stadium wasn't that big until you walked through those portals into the seating area. I miss the stadium being open to the public, instead of locked up unless there's a game or a paid event. I miss the camaraderie of being in the same boat as everyone else, instead of a separate class of suite-holders who get parking spots in the Blue Lot, yet never tailgate because they can just go to their suite. 

I get what college football has become. But I look at Michigan Stadium now, and I don't see the place I fell in love with as a kid. The entire package has become so business-oriented, out-of-control, and totally commercialized. It just turns me off.


July 26th, 2013 at 2:49 AM ^

I love it as is.

I'll be severely disappointed, however, if they add an upper deck above *one* endzone as Brandon has suggested. Call me a sentimentalist cemented to the past, but I'm a sucker for the continuous bowl. Disrupting those slopes with upper decks would be a drag. But even worse is the idea that we'd only do this to one endzone (at least at first)! That would disrupt Michigan Stadium's countless lines of symmetry, which is much less forgivable.

Ohio Stadium recently met official plans to fill in the "gaps" on either side of its locker room tunnels. Effectively, it won't be a horseshoe any more but an ellipsoid like so many other stadiums. And what a shame! That's how you rust a pretty icon. Not by fixing it when it's broken, as we planned in 2007, but by fixing it when it isn't, as OSU is doing now and Dave Brandon is hoping to here.

If it has to happen, fine!, I'll stand in line and learn to love it, but these would be my preferences:

(1) Only do this if we are *certain* we can fill it during down years (Seeing Beaver Stadium, e.g., 10,000 belong capacity is thoroughly depressing).

(2) If we are going to add an upper deck, then add one to BOTH endzones at the same time to preserve bowl symmetry.

(3) If we are going to go ahead with this, then North and South brick facades might as well happen too, and they need to look marvelous.


July 26th, 2013 at 9:14 AM ^

it would be done in a way that it visually appears as an extension to the slope of the bowl, while continuing the concourse from the sideline structures around the bowl ends. I also think it was described in a way that it would not raise the score boards. Thus that bowl feel you desire would actually be emphasized.


July 26th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

I don't know how you'd accomplish those two things though (visually continuing the bowl without raising the scoreboards). Wouldn't you end up with a significant number of seats hard against the scoreboard that would only have partial views of the field?

That would seem to really go against the architectural idea of Michigan Stadium. I'd really like to maintain a stadium that has no "obstructed views" like so many other places (PSU and OSU especially) where overhangs, girders, and other parts of the stadium structure block sightlines.


July 26th, 2013 at 5:43 AM ^

but it has grown on me.  i didn't (and don't) mind the idea of a bigger stadium, but like many above i enjoyed the simple bowl shape.  i will say that i appreciate that it is louder than it used to be.  having played in some fairly loud places, it does impact the game.   i always thought it was kind of weird how this diffuse noise could make our  line calls so difficult to hear sometimes. 

Doc Brown

July 26th, 2013 at 6:38 AM ^

I just can't wrap my head around the opinion of being against the renovations. the stadium is beautiful. it looks intimidating. it is actually loud inside now. I love it. yeah I miss the old press box just like I am going to miss Joe Louis Arena after the New Joe is built next to Comerica Park. just for a sentimental reason. however both served their purpose but became an eyesore in the age of stadium arm races.


July 26th, 2013 at 8:48 AM ^

As others who were somewhat against it before have stated; I was balancing my need for nostalgia/tradition and the fact that it was old and needed a heavy dose of TLC and modernization.  With that being said the end product came out great but as someone who got to witness a "that's it" comment first hand, I will miss not having that experience anymore. 


July 26th, 2013 at 9:36 AM ^

And even more for it after they did it. I think the actual final product looks way better than the original designs released.

That's pretty close, but looks like more of a shell, and has too much glass. The actual product looks more like a collesium and the blue on the inside really makes it all blend really well.

People think it was the same continuous bowl before, but there were seating upgrades to raise the total attendance It went from 101,701 to 102,501 in 1992 and then the big jump to 107,501 in 1998.  And at that point, even with the Halo down, there was still all that unfinished looking iron beaming and the cheap blue "former halo" circling the stadium. It didn't really look great, or even just like the classic bowl. This coverted most of that up and made it look very classy.

Section 1

July 26th, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

I don't even know the year.  But the stadium went from under 97,000 to above 100,000 with the rather elaborate addition of some top rows with steel construction.  Somebody help me out here.  What were the old capacity numbers, and when did they change?

Section 1

July 26th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

Thanks.  I have no doubt but that if Yost and Crisler had been alive in 2000, they'd have been pushing for the exact plan that we ended up with.  They would have been all for it.  I'd speculate the same way about Don Canham, too, but that's not necessary.  Canham said he was for a Stadium renovation before he died.

Blue Durham

July 26th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

I am guessing you are right as it was designed and build, but the addition of the bleachers as described below bumped it up. From MGoBlue.com under the stadium history:

Opening Season at Michigan Stadium, 1927
Despite the grandeur of the new home, many journalists and fans questioned how the new stadium would affect Michigan's home field advantage after having gone 88-14-2 at Ferry Field.

As the stadium neared completion, Yost requested an addition of 10,000 temporary seats for the concourse at the top of the stadium. This request passed, and Michigan Stadium opened at the corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard with a capacity of 84,401 -- the largest college owned stadium of any team in the nation.

On Oct. 1, 1927, Michigan played Ohio Wesleyan in the first game at Michigan Stadium. The game was a success as Michigan started the scoring on a 28-yard pass from Louis Gilbert to tight end Kip Taylor and prevailed easily, 33-0. The new stadium was dedicated three weeks later against Ohio State on Oct. 22, 1927. Though Michigan spoiled the dedication of Ohio Stadium five years earlier, the Wolverines blanked the Buckeyes 21-0 before a capacity crowd of 84,401 at Michigan Stadium.


July 26th, 2013 at 9:37 AM ^

about the stadium can rest assured that our recruiting is directly impacted by the renovations. It was a necessity to compete in the modern era. Dont even try to tell me otherwise, if uniforms matter this much to 16 an 17 year olds, so do stadiums.