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Updated 10:00 AM October 16, 2006
 

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Stadium designs unveiled

Preliminary schematic designs for renovation and additions to Michigan Stadium were shared with the public today (Oct. 23). Once the designs are finalized over the next several weeks, they will be presented to the Board of Regents for consideration.

A west view of the proposed stadium renovation. Image courtesy HNTB Michigan Architecture, Inc.

Athletic Department officials will hold public presentations in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn to share the plans with the community. Detailed information, including the designs, can be found at www.umich.edu/stadium.

The proposed plan will modernize the 80-year-old stadium and improve the overall game-day experience for all football fans, says Athletic Director William C. Martin.

“The design respects and carries forward the strong tradition and excellence of Michigan football and reflects the rich architectural character of our Athletic campus,” Martin says.

“The design is gorgeous. It lives up to the standard we would expect for an icon like Michigan Stadium,” says President Mary Sue Coleman. “I’m really delighted to see that the designs draw so clearly on the imagery and architectural traditions of the Intramural Building and Yost Ice Arena.” 

The Design Team is led by HNTB Michigan Architecture, Inc. of HNTB Sports Architecture, Inc. and assisted by Kallmann McKinnell and Wood, Architects, Inc. 

“In working on the stadium, we recognize that this special collegiate icon is vastly different than a commercial sports venue. We are keenly aware of its sense of history, of competitive spirit, and the experience fans have when entering—the sense that they are sharing a unique Saturday tradition with generations of alumni and fans who came before them,” says Mike Handelman, project principal for HNTB.

“It was clear that the existing structure does not have a forceful exterior presence in the way that the IM Building and Yost do. This renovation is an opportunity for us to present the stadium with a sense of history and strength,” says Michael McKinnell, principal with Kallman McKinnell and Wood. 

The preliminary plan includes building two multi-story masonry structures on both the east and west sides of the stadium; the end zones will remain open. The west-side structure would include an elevated concourse, a new press box for media and game operations, new chair backs seats and private suites. The east side structure would include an expanded elevated concourse with new concessions and restrooms, additional indoor and outdoor club seating and private suites.

The plans also include circulation towers on both sides of the stadium. Handelman says the towers are designed with a brick exterior and vertical bands of glass, used to provide visibility and an open feeling in the elevator lobbies on each floor and in the primary stairwells.

The two proposed structures would rise to a height of 85 feet above the concourse, 10 feet higher than the scoreboard in either end zone. Martin notes the structures also will help direct crowd noise back onto the field, providing a greater home field advantage. 

According to the design team, new exterior walls would be added along the east and west side of the stadium, replacing the current perimeter fencing. The exterior walls will have a thickness to emphasize their strength, while also acting as both a wall and in some locations a screen. The two-story walls would include large, airy archways allowing for maximum light into the stadium. Handelman noted the effect of the openness would add depth and interest to the façade of the stadium.

The sidewalk along Main Street also would be widened in various locations, allowing for improved crowd flow outside the stadium perimeter.

Improvements also will include an increase in the number and quality of restrooms; more concession stands with a greater variety of fare; widened aisles and seats; handrails; additional entry and exit points for improved crowd circulation and safety; and additional dedicated seating for fans with impaired mobility. 

Under the proposed plans, all seats in the bowl will be widened to some degree. As aisles are widened, at least one seat will be removed in each row, and the remaining portion of every bench will be renumbered for the remaining seat holders.

Although widening the seats and aisles will result in the loss of seats, the Athletic Department has planned for these changes such that it should not have a significant impact on the seat location of current season ticketholders. New seating capacity will result from the addition of 83 suites and 3,200 club seats. When renovations are complete, the capacity of the Big House will be the same or greater than the current capacity of 107,501.

Plans call for 47 suites on the west side and 36 on the east side. The suites would provide seating for 16 people and have operable glass windows to allow for crowd noise.

When renovations are complete, ticketholders will see a significant increase in the number of restrooms, with women’s toilets doubling and men’s restrooms increasing by 50 percent. Fans will also enjoy a significant increase in the number of permanent food concession points of sale.

TV production trucks that previously were parked in the northwest corner of the stadium grounds would move outside the gates. The trucks would be located in a parking lot across Keech Street. 

In addition to the two main sideline buildings, the plans call for buildings to be constructed at the north and south end zones. These would house additional restrooms and concessions, and support functions such as first-aid, police/security and will-call. 

Martin says he looks forward to sharing the designs with the public and bringing them back to the regents for consideration in the next few weeks. 

He adds that construction, to be finished before the 2010 season, will not interrupt home football games.

The estimated cost of the project is $226 million. Funding will be provided through private donations and Athletic Department resources, primarily revenues generated by the new seating. Once the costs of the renovation are recovered, revenue from the new seating will be available over the long run to support facilities upgrades and other costs for the 25 men’s and women’s varsity sports.

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