U-M Indoor Track Building hosts final event ever Saturday

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on February 16th, 2015 at 9:39 PM

The final lap for the U-M Indoor Track Building will happen this Saturday when both Men's and Women's Track teams host the Silverston Invitational.

After 40 years, the building will shut down and prepare for a summer demolition. 

Built in 1974-75 as the U-M Indoor Track and Tennis Building, the then-shiny new building was created on the site of the long forgotten Ferry Field Tennis Courts that were installed back in early 20s-

The Building eventually changed it's name to the U-M Indoor Track Building once that Varsity Tennis Center was completed in 1997, allowing Michigan to host all of their tennis matches on University property as opposed to when they used Liberty Sports Complex as their outdoor home for matches.

Michigan's track teams combined for 12 B1G Indoor Championships while at the Indoor Track Building. It hosted the B1G Championships in 1977, 1984, 1994 and 2004 with BOTH the Men and Women capturing the B1G Championship in 1994 in arguably the 'Building's finest hour. 

Probably the most recent famous video that was shot at the Indoor Track Building was when a freshman Denard Robinson won the 60M dash against Ohio State.


As mentioned, the Indoor Track Building will be demolished this summer along with.....sigh....Ferry Field. Unlike the indoor facility, Ferry Field does not get a final event. It has been deemed no longer in shape to host competitions and will sadly be turned into a parking lot. 

Here is the map of what the athletic campus will look like once all renovations are completed. Keep in mind, this map won't be a complete reality for another 3-4 years.

1- Site of the new unnamed outdoor and indoor track stadiums

2- Site of the current U-M Indoor Track Building. The building you see at the #2 slot is the future unnamed sports arena that will replace Cliff Keen Arena which will be built in 2017.

3- Ferry Field after it becomes a parking lot. Very, very sad.

Here are photos of the unnamed indoor track stadium that will open next winter-





Wolverine Devotee

February 16th, 2015 at 9:58 PM ^

Just history in general, really. 

From 1906-1926, Ferry Field was the home to Fielding H. Yost's Michigan Football teams and the 1925 team which he claimed was the greatest he had ever coached. 

It was where Benny Friedman became football's first great passer, connecting with Bennie Oosterbaan for TDs on a normal basis. Ferry Field was home to 2 claimed football national championships. 

Ray Fisher Stadium will be the last surviving piece of the original land donated by Dexter M. Ferry. As you see in the photo above, that whole area was called Ferry Field. Ray Fisher Stadium was called Ferry Field until it was renamed in 1967. 

Bando Calrissian

February 16th, 2015 at 9:59 PM ^

Good riddance. Spent a lot of time in there between two years of UM Basketball Camp as a kid, Dance Marathon and a bunch of MMB stuff as a student, all sorts of Victors Club events... It's a pretty atrocious facility, built before these kinds of spaces stopped looking and feeling like oversized tool sheds.

As for Ferry Field, it seems to me there are a lot more creative solutions for the parking problem (and it is a pretty pressing problem), but there unfortunately aren't a lot of adaptive reuses for tracks and large fields that aren't things like parking lots. Speaking as someone who has done a lot of activism work for historic preservation, it's unfortunate that not everything can be saved, even if it is something as historic as Ferry Field.

And, really, aside from the gate (which, IIRC, isn't even in its original location), there's absolutely nothing left of historical value there from a structural standpoint. The stands are gone, the track is new, etc. So what exactly do you want to save?


February 16th, 2015 at 10:11 PM ^

of my collegiate athletic career there...some are sad to see it go. Perhaps if you had better experiences there the apathy would be lost...That building was my home after classes. A ton of great memories even coming back and officiating Big Ten indoors after graduation, and Ferry Field, site to Jesse Owens breaking four world records. His long jump record remained the Big Ten record until recently (at the time he set it the conference was the Western Athletic Championship). I still have the program from the event. Unreal how "progress" loses site of what came before it due to attitude and apathy.

Bando Calrissian

February 16th, 2015 at 10:17 PM ^

Of course things happened there, and of course people have memories of the building. But the fact of the matter is it's being replaced by something far better for the student athletes, it has almost no architectural value, and is in a location that is in dire need of improvement and redevelopment. Heck, it backs up to a broken-down wooden fence and a patch of busted-up parking lot. We're not talking about the Taj Mahal of sports here.


February 17th, 2015 at 9:51 AM ^

by a replacement arena and parkinglot...undoubtedly for $$$$$. I get revenue is important but we bring in more revenue than nearly any other collegiate program. You saw where the complete focus of money and nothing but money got Brandon?
Why didn't they make rennovation plans to rebuild the indoor and outdoor track where it is just like the baseball/softball Wilpon complex? Just seems like they had an agenda that superceeded history and TRADITION which seems to be an interchangable word to suit the needs of leaders. I say screw the expense of the marching band, get with the modern day entertainment, use drones and piped in music. The marching band is so 1900's...right?


February 17th, 2015 at 2:20 PM ^

I'm not sure how this parking lot will generate much revenue, aside from some hockey/football/baseball fees. 

If you're just now getting upset about sports getting moved futher south, you've probably missed the boat. Soccer, Tennis, Wrestling, Gymnastics all are down south of the golf course.

I understand there is history for Ferry Field, but I would be careful to confuse that with tradition. 

Gentleman Squirrels

February 17th, 2015 at 3:24 AM ^

As someone who will be doing it for the second time next month, I cannot agree more. The entire event is a whole lot of fun and if you keep in mind what the cause is for (pediatric rehabilitation therapies), standing up for so long seems just so worth it. By the way, the event is 24 hours this year (and likely will be that long moving forward).


February 17th, 2015 at 5:56 AM ^

Glad to hear. What always resonated the most with me about the Marathon was being amongst several hundred fellow students, all participating with a level of enthusiasm unknown to mankind. It doesn't take long to realize how neat it is to be a part of that.

Is this the first year it's gonna be 24 hours instead of 30? I remember people were still dead tired the Monday after and often missed class that day, so I'd imagine that might have something to do with it. Or have they specified other reasons for scaling back?


February 16th, 2015 at 10:10 PM ^

Oh man, so many memories there. Pretty much every other Saturday my dad used to round up me and my siblings and take us to the track and tennis building to run laps. Granted my sister and I would just run off to the gym mats to jump around and then beg for money to get something from the vending machine.

Come to think of it, I've been there dozens upon dozens of times, but I can't recall ever going there for a meet or tennis match...


February 16th, 2015 at 10:13 PM ^

One of the hardest things I had to do in my work recently was assign the work orders to get the demolition of both the services and all the system conduit that we had across the propert started (well, in the spring - a bit hard to do that work right at the moment). There is a lot of history that we will be - for the final time - ne taking out of service on South Campus throughout the year. 


February 16th, 2015 at 10:39 PM ^

I mean I'm all for historical preservation but Ferry Field isn't much anymore. Regents Field was demolished at one time too. Just leave the Jesse Owens Plaque up. I'd rather our athletic teams have the best chance for success which they clearly didn't have at Ferry Field/Indoor Track Building than preserving the history and undermining our program.


February 16th, 2015 at 11:05 PM ^

Its a change for the better. The Track facilities are awful at Michigan. Schools as small as Akron, Saginaw Valley, and Aquinas! have far superior indoor Track facilities. It's time to catchup. Michigan high schools have had some insanely good Track athletes in the past couple years, and this year especially, and they don't even give U of M at look because of the substandard and outdated facilities


February 17th, 2015 at 12:18 AM ^

I lived on south state for four years 05-09 and cannot remember ever seeing a train on those tracks. I would assume they are still used since there was a new crossing put in recently. It's always bothered me that the train tracks split the athletic campus.

Also, there will be no tracks for student use on central/ south campus with the demo of Ferry.


February 17th, 2015 at 7:26 AM ^

baseball players hit the roof over the years.  Otherwise an ugly building that always looked out of place compared to Michigan's other athletic facilities.  Long overdue.


February 17th, 2015 at 9:48 AM ^

I think the only two I recall seeing hit the roof there were Hal Morris and a certain Spartan who went on to play for the Tigers. 

There were probably a few more; I don't know if an official list exists, but maybe WD can help us out on that.  The late baseball AD, Jim Schneider, might have compiled an official list.


February 17th, 2015 at 7:39 AM ^

We used to run out PT tests for ROTC at Ferry Field and the Indoor Track. Very said indeed! Progress has to happen but Ferry Field is a special place


February 19th, 2015 at 6:04 PM ^

Haha yea I guess. Never really thought of Ferry FIeld and the Indoor Track as crappy, but North Hall certainly was - but it was also prime real estate and filled with memories! Needs to go but I wish ROTC could keep that space.


February 17th, 2015 at 7:47 AM ^

they couldn't turn Ferry Field into a soccer venue instead of building on way out on State Street.

Cool backdrop with some history, but space in that area has always been very limited.

Wolverine In Iowa

February 17th, 2015 at 8:08 AM ^

I think Ferry Field (95% sure) is where we would have the IM track meet in the spring, correct?  I somehow got nominated to run the 400 for my fraternity, and I thought I was going to die - just so pathetic.  I had never run a track event before, and to my surprise, the 400 was not a leisurely stroll around the track.  The 400 and the 800 must just be brutal to train and compete in.

rob f

February 17th, 2015 at 11:14 PM ^

being brutal.  The 800 not so much, at least at the high school level where I ran those two events (although back then they were the quarter-mile and half-mile/ 440 and 880).  The 400 is a sprint; when I first started running the 440 as a junior after being a half-miler up until then, I thought, 'this is gonna be gravy'.  Anything but, as sprinting for a full quarter-mile quickly turned my legs to mush after being accustomed to running the 880, 80-90% of it at a pace followed by a sprint the last 100 yards or so.


February 17th, 2015 at 8:43 AM ^

or at least, saw the winning mile run by our own chris brewster.   he trailed the leaders by at least 1/2 of the track with about 1/3rd of a mile to go, and reeled them in and won going away.  my memory says it was around a 4:28 mile, but hopefully WD will help me fact check all of this.  i had never been to a track meet before then and had no idea how cool they were. 

as an aside, chris was captain of both cross country and track teams, an all american, and he was a fun guy.  by my senior year i was no longer playing 'real' hockey at michigan, only playing IM's.  talked him into playing with us and he was very good.  i don't think the track coach was overly fond of him playing hockey, but such is life. 


February 17th, 2015 at 9:43 AM ^

"Built in 1974-75 as the U-M Indoor Track and Tennis Building..."  Small correction:  It was simply the "Track and Tennis Building."



February 17th, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

So does that mean the only outdoor track for student use is the crumbling concrete one at Palmer Field?  I know I and many other students used that Ferry Field track regularly when not in use by one of the Track and Field teams and unless I'm mistaken, it was the only "soft" track surface on or around central campus.