Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thousands flock to Michigan Stadium for firsthand view of renovations

Wolverine football fans streamed into Michigan Stadium by the thousands Wednesday to get their first look at new premium seating and other amenities that are the highlights of a three-year renovation project.

“One of the things we really wanted to do was keep the Big House the Big House,” Athletic Director Dave Brandon told reporters following a tour of the additional seating that will open when U-M takes on Connecticut in the 2010 season opener Sept. 4.

 
 

Above, members of the media get a look at the new press box.
Below, a television reporter interviews a visitor about her tour of Michigan Stadium renovations. (Photos by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

 

And big the house will be. The athletic department announced Wednesday that Michigan Stadium’s seating capacity for 2010 will be 109,901, allowing it to reclaim its title as the largest collegiate or professional football venue in the United States. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium surpassed U-M for a couple years while renovation work temporarily reduced seating capacity.

The facility opened to the public at 6 a.m. and for the next 14 hours an estimated 15,000 people wandered through its east side, checking out the wider concourses, additional restrooms and improved handicapped access. Many also tested the comfort of the cushioned blue club seats that offer a bird’s eye view of the gridiron.

“I’m surprised at how great the view is,” remarked Larry Pennington of Howell as he toured the facility with his wife, Ruth, who admitted to fearing the project would damage the stadium’s classic features when it was first announced.

“I couldn’t imagine what it was going to look like before they started,” Ruth Pennington said. “But after seeing it, it’s absolutely gorgeous.”

 

Visitors inspect the new premium club seating on the east side of Michigan Stadium. (Photo by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

 

Brandon told reporters that “one of the things I’m really pleased with is the architectural feel and how it fits in with the campus.” Another benefit is that the new construction will help generate about 30 percent more game-day noise. “We’re going to have a stadium that’s going to be able to really rock ‘n’ roll,” he said.

The $226 million renovation has met its budget, and with 75 percent of the premium seating sold so far, it is exceeding the target needed to service the debt that financed it, Brandon said.

Joe Parker, senior associate athletic director for development, said 61 of the 81 indoor suites have been sold, with about 60 percent of those going to individuals or groups of individuals, and 40 percent to corporate donors. He expressed confidence that 100 percent occupancy could be reached within three years.

Each suite will seat 16 people. Six more — up to four standing-room guests and two others who can visit from seats elsewhere during the fourth quarter — can be allowed. The annual donation ranges from $55,000 to $85,000 depending on the suite’s relationship to midfield, and includes 16 season tickets.

In addition, the stadium has 2,952 new club seats that have a donation ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, plus the cost of a season ticket, Parker said.

Besides giving the public a chance to see the renovations, Wednesday’s tour also served as a marketing effort, and one that no doubt resonated with numerous visitors.

“These club seats are a great view,” said Scott Brewer of Jackson, who brought his nephews, Nicholas and Andrew Brewer of Parma, to see the stadium. “It’s very enticing to make the investment.”