Obscure Michigan Stadium Query

Submitted by CarrIsMyHomeboy on March 23rd, 2010 at 8:27 PM

I noticed--long before the ongoing renovations came to pass--that, on the east-sided stadium bowl rim, roughly 6-10 rows were removed sometime in the stadium's history along onstensibly 120 yards of that sideline. As some fans may have failed to notice this, I will provide a gaggle of photos for clarification.


I imagine those sufficiently helped me communicate my point.

Moving on: This "notch" in the stadium's bowl always struck me as peculiar. Firstly, it wasn't always this way. Exhibit G:


Moreover, the new east structure finds itself conveniently engineered to complementarily fit into this "notch". Exhibits H, I:


As for my query, I'm looking for the who, what, when, and why about this odd structural idiosyncrasy.

-Was there a structural/functional reason necessitating this "notch"?

-Was the "notch" created because, like I assumed earlier, ~120yards of bleachers were removed from the east side's upper rim? Or--instead--is this the result of building up the upper rim everywhere except the east side? What does the stadium's historical capacity changes have to say regarding that question (apropos a strange capacity increase or decrease)?

-Who was the athletic director when this was done--when was it done?--and what was that person's reasoning? Were they being provident?

I have a hard time believing any decades-ago athletic department official could have multi-decade foresight about a stadium renovation project not well defined until the first decade of the twenty-first century, but--given Yost's great foresight regarding the stadium's future--I'm not willing to rule out anything without proof.

Are there any resident stadium historians or know-it-alls around to give me a hand?



March 23rd, 2010 at 8:45 PM ^

That's what I want to believe, too. I just don't want that bias to obscure me from learning about the truth. Though I'm sure you're right (I mean, damn, there'd be too many goddamn coincidences if you aren't), I'm curious if the A.D. ever went on record with an explanation for that "notch"--either originally (at the time of its creation) or recently (with the skyboxes going up).


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:55 PM ^

needed to add enough seats to top tennessee in the late 90s when those a-holes expanded their stadium. not only did we retake the crown for biggest stadium, I also believe some guy on michigan beat out a tennessee guy for the heisman.


March 23rd, 2010 at 9:18 PM ^

Tennessee expanded around 1996 to have a capacity of around 102,600 (to our 102,501). In 1998, we added 5,000 seats, reaching the 107,501 capacity. UT added about a thousand more seats sometime after that, but they've never surpassed us since.

BTW, the rationale for the 1998 expansion was that in 1997 (of all years), student demand exceeded supply for the first time ever, so freshmen had to get split-season packages. Imagine being on campus and not getting to go to all the games in an undefeated season. That happened to a few thousand students.


March 24th, 2010 at 8:07 AM ^

I was one of the poor, unfortunate souls who had the split season tickets. My games included Notre Dame, Eastern, NW and Iowa I believe (I remember going to those games that year, they all my not have been in my package though), so I missed out on the dismantling of Colorado (revenge for Cordell Stewart) and the OSU game. Let me tell you; IT SUCKED!!!!, but at least my girlfriend at the time went to State, so i got to REALLY rub in the Woodson interception.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:56 PM ^

Basic info here: http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/stadium/stadtext/stad1998.htm

Looking at your older shot looking straight down onto the stadium, you can see that the old scoreboards appear to be resting on or are directly in line with the old upper rim in the endzones. I would bet that these old scoreboards were supported by the stadium structure already in place. The new scoreboards were huge monsters by comparison, and they weighed over 50,000 pounds apiece. This necessitated installation of their own support systems, comprising 4 columns apiece, and all of this had to be installed well outside of the old existing stadium structure footprint. My guess is that since they wanted to expand the stadium anyhow (in part to reclaim the biggest stadium status temporarily claimed by Neyland down at Tennessee) they expanded in the endzones to bring the seating up to the new scoreboards.


March 23rd, 2010 at 9:28 PM ^

The rows were added in both end zones when the scoreboards were changed. The rows were added to add seats to help reduce the wait list for season tickets and to increase the seating to keep the stadium the largest. At the time there was some discussion of adding a second deck in the end zone sections. I have had season tickets in the area of the change since 1973 until the revised visitor seating was done, the addition took away our back rest.

Bando Calrissian

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:29 PM ^

When the notch was left during the renovations following the 1997 season, there were rampant rumors there would be a new press box, and it would be built on the other side of the stadium. That happened. Sort of. 12 years later.

Would not surprise me if they had indeed sat down and done a strategic plan on future stadium expansion at that time, and had this all planned out (at least in theory).

Section 1

March 23rd, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

It is simply a matter of how the top additional rows would be supported, along the far east side, and there was no way to do that, given the underlying structure. The "indentation" you refer to simply corresponded to the old area that had the underlying brick and arches of the old construction.

All of your photos did a very nice job of demonstrating the look from inside the Stadium. They are all fine. But pictures from outside the stadium looking at the east-side structure would probably demonstrate to you why they did it that way.

Section 1

March 24th, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

If so, thanks, I guess.
I don't know why I'd get negged either.
And after posting, I thought of an even clearer explanation of the same thing; the "notch" that everyone is speaking of, corresponds almost exactly with the old "mezzanine" walkway on the east side of the Stadium that is unique to that part of the Stadium. Where, uniquely, there is a different underlying support structure and, as most of you may know, there are two levels of portals into the Stadium.


March 23rd, 2010 at 11:31 PM ^

Perhaps when the endzone seats were added in the addition, they decided not to add seats on the East side of the stadium because they face the West, which we all know is where the sun sets. If you're going to add seats, you would want to do it so the spectators are as comfortable as possible. Perhaps that had part to do with it.