RIP Ferry Field, Cliff Keen Arena

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on September 11th, 2012 at 3:35 PM

With the news of the AMAZING new rennovations that are coming to the entire athletic campus, we see the end for Cliff Keen Arena and the historic Ferry Field is near.

On the map, you can see Ferry Field will become a parking lot for the rennovated Canham Natatorium and Weidenbach Hall. Quote from the new indoor track facilities description.

Ferry Field has served us well for over half a century with its illustrious history, but college athletics has changed immensely. So our vision is to move the outdoor track and field facility to a new dedicated area, and create a place where Big Ten, national and international competitions can finally be held.

Quote from the new "multi-purpose arena" that will host Volleyball, M Gymnastics and Wrestling's description.

The Cliff Keen Arena has served us well, but it doesn’t provide individualized resources for our sports that rely on this facility. Our vision is to transform the space ensuring that our wrestling, volleyball and gymnastics teams will compete in a facility, which will make them the envy of our conference, and on par with their national rivals.

Ferry Field really hurts. For those who aren't history buffs, Ferry Field was the home of Michigan Football from 1906-1926. Home to Fielding H. Yost's last football team, 1918 National Champions, Benny Friedman, Bennie Oosterbaan, Germany Schulz and many more great Michigan men.

This new South Campus plan is a beautiful thing to see. Absolutely love it. Michigan NEEDS a new Indoor Track Building, Lacrosse Stadium etc.

Just hard to let go of such a historic site that Ferry was.



September 11th, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

I find out today that the camp I worked at for four summers will no longer be providing summer camps.  Couple that with Cliff Keen Arena, where I worked for four years in college as a student, being eliminated I don't know what to think.  I've been working at my current job for four years...


September 11th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

Ferry Field is where Jesse Owes had the greatest hour in sports history.

Boy, I'm sure all these new places (and there are a LOT) will be nice and I know the athletic department is self-funded, but man, that's quite an empire at a public university. Again, I know they'll get donors and season ticket holders to pony up, but it's quite stunning. I have no idea how other Div 1A schools, outside a group of 20 or so (Texas, OSU, Stanford, etc) will ever remotely keep up. Which is the idea, I suppose.

Section 1

September 11th, 2012 at 4:08 PM ^

Michigan's first football stadium, essentially.

This is such a ghastly paving-over of history.  To me it is much like putting up a parking lot in the middle of the diag.

I met Willis Ward at a football tailgate on Ferry Field when I was a little boy.  I'll never forget it.

I have to wonder; before this terrible destruction of what is arguably the most hallowed ground in Michigan sports apart from the Big House, what about Elbel field, directly across the street from the Canham Natatorium?  Couldn't that land have been used?  Is it going to be used for something else? 

This decision is shocking and, for any Michigan history buff, horrifying.


September 11th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^ over reaching for the past. Ferry Field was replaced as the football stadium when Michigan Stadium opened. In 1927. That's 85 years ago. The IM Building, etc. were all built on top of a portion of its footprint. Before that, the team played on Regents Field roughly where Schembechler Hall is now located. Before that, they played at the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds. I don't see anyone lamenting the repurposing of those fields.

Yes, Ferry Field has been an historic T&F venue, but it and the existing Indoor T&F facility are simply inadequate for modern meets.

It will all be ok, folks.

James Burrill Angell

September 11th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^

I love the history of Ferry Field but the track team does deserve better.

I had heard a while ago that the Office of Student Life was trying to get the athletic department to use Ferry Field for the expansion of the Intramural Building. Michigan has the absolute worst student workout facilities and there is nowhere else on central campus to expand.

No big shocker that Dave Brandon would sooner get the additional revenue for some parking than dedicate the space to the actual needs of the students by expanding the IM Building.

Sometimes I wonder if that guy realizes that the Athletic Department is part of the greater University.


September 11th, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

in a track than 8 lanes, a discus, shotput, high jump, long jump and javelin area? TRACK class of '92. The upgrades to the indoor facility once tennis was removed was amazing. This doesn't sit well with me...but i'm just a blip on the map if even that. Ferry Field was fine.

david from wyoming

September 11th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

So what makes the field so historic, the track and field part or the football stadium part? Because currently you are flipping back and forth.

If you care about football, then where the stands used to be is part of the field and that was already torn down and build over.

If you care about track and field, then I'm very sure that the plaque will stay up for all time and I would be just as upset as you if that plaque was taken down.


September 12th, 2012 at 8:58 AM ^

...S. Ferry Field and the portion we marched on is now Ocker Field (the Field Hockey facility). We're talking Ferry Field, the former Michigan football stadium located behind Weidenbach Hall and the IM Bldg.

And how stupid was it that we were forced to use S. Ferry Field as our drill field when Palmer Field is a 2 min walk from North Hall?


September 17th, 2012 at 10:00 AM ^

...points. I always loved walking through the diag in uniform during the protests about US involvement in Central America, US/Israeli Palestinian oppression, and South Africa divestment. The democracy in action made me especially proud to have chosen to serve in the Navy.

snarling wolverine

September 12th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

The scene of most of our national championships in football. Where the old "Foot Ball Department" was born.

Actually, both of those statements are incorrect. Ferry Field was our third home football venue, after the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds (1883-92) and Regents Field (1893-1905), which is where the Point-a-Minute teams played. Ferry Field was our home from 1906-26, during which time we won only two of our 11 national championships (1918, 1923). It's still a historic venue, of course, but more for track than football.

Michigan Stadium has been the home of five of our national-championship teams (1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997), which is more than any other home site.  


Section 1

September 11th, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

See above.

And yeah, in true Michigan style, there will probably be a new patch on somebody's uniform commemorating Ferry Field.

I should say -- I have been one of the posters who have been most eager to get Dave Brandon to build more parking lots for South Athletic Campus events.  I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that.  And, by building the Davidson Center in the Blue Lot and by repurposing Blue Lot Parking for "Champions" level (suiteholder) parking, the Athletic Department has created a lot of parking demand, which was ridiculously high to begin with.


M Fanfare

September 11th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

Interesting that they'll be paving over Ferry Field but leaving all of those hideous warehouse guildings that are along the railroad tracks near Michigan Stadium. I know they house most of the parking and transportation services buildings, the bus lot and repair facilities, and DPS headquarters, but thos buildings were there when Michigan Stadium opened in 1927, and having been in them on a few occasions, they don't look loke they've been renovated at all since then. If those could be turned into parking, that would create even more space than the old Ferry Field site will, plus the facilities thos buildings house could be relocated anywhere, even miles off campus. I guess it's a lot cheaper to pave over Ferry Field, but in the long term, tearing down the warehouses might be a better option.

Section 1

September 11th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

I do think that one part of the problem is that not all of that land is University-owned.  But goshalmighty; get it purchased and renovated.

The railroad tracks are probably beyond any discussion of moving; I don't think that's ever been even close to being an option.  Railroad easements are forever-kinds of things.  The federal, state and municipal governments are sinking millions into the Stadium Blvd bridge over that easement (there is a bunch of complicated sewer, water, and telecom stuff going through the same patch).


September 12th, 2012 at 5:52 PM ^

Realistic solution: relocate the Library Annexes (near the indoor Coliseum and MMB practice lot). While moving that massive collection would be a logistical nightmare, paving them over would provide expanded parking while limiting the amount of butthurt over our "history."

(I qualify that by saying: 1. I majored in History at Michigan, and have a deep appreciation for Ann Arbor landmarks 2. I generally approve of efforts to preserve historical landmarks 3. While Ferry Field is an important chapter in our history, I would wagersay it's not a "landmark" such that it cannot be repurposed and include elements/reminders of the past). For example, keeping the Ferry Field gate around (I think Schembechler Hall) was a nice nod to the past.

However, if we're bent on preserving Ferry Field and achieving more parking, then relocating the Library Annex to one of the many vacant areas on North Campus would make sense. The intra-library system at Michigan works just fine, and it would be a minor inconvenience in procurement time. The school wouldn't have to work too hard to bulldoze a few hangar-like warehouses, and they'd be easy to build (and update with the best preservaton & climate control technology).


September 11th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

and understand what he did for the university, it saddens me to see his tribute go away. I hope the university finds another way to continue to honor a man who did so much for so long for Michigan.

Wolverine Devotee

September 11th, 2012 at 6:30 PM ^

Sadly, I think the era of naming buildings after great people that were apart of the sport the building is for it gone. It'll probably be all-donor named which is a damn shame.

Perhaps they could name the new arena Keen-Weber Arena.

Cliff Keen-

  • Wrestling head coach from 1925-26 - 1941-42, 1945-46 - 1969-70
  • Football assistant coach from 1926-1930, 1932-1936, 1941-1958

Wally Weber-

  •  Wrestling head coach in 1944-45
  • Football freshmen team/assistant coach from 1930-1958.

Those were some dedicated Michigan Men who don't get much credit.