5 additions that turned heads at Michigan Stadium over the past two decades
The Big House of today looks very different than the stadium of 20 years ago.
In the past two decades, University of Michigan officials have installed and uninstalled a decorative halo around Michigan Stadium, spent more than $2 million on a grass field only to revert to artificial turf 12 years later and added 81 luxury boxes to the stadium, even though a recent college president said he was opposed to the idea.
The stadium that holds the world record for attendance levels at a football game is undergoing another visual change: officials plan to install a $2.8 million scoreboard outside the stadium by fall 2013.
Here's a look at some additions (and demolitions) that changed the visual impact of the stadium through the years.
Ann Arbor News file photo
The halo is probably Michigan Stadium's most disliked addition, drawing bitter criticism from fans and alumni. The halo was torn down before the fall 2000 season, just two years after it debuted.
It included icons and letters over seven feet tall, spelling out words like 'Victors' and 'Michigan.' According to Ann Arbor News articles, it cost about $50,000 to remove the letters and another $50,000 to repair the affected areas of the stadium.
Lee Bollinger, U-M president at the time, told the press that "the depth of the criticism and concern" convinced officials to dismantle the halo.
AnnArbor.com file photo
In 2010, U-M unveiled a $227 million renovation of Michigan Stadium. The renovation included the addition of club seating and 81 luxury boxes — the first such boxes in stadium history. The boxes, located on the east and west sides of the stadium, changed the exterior view of the stadium, which had previously included bleacher seats and a press box. The original 1950s-era press box was demolished in 2009 as a part of the renovation.
The luxury boxes were installed 10 years after former U-M President Lee Bollinger told reporters that the school had no plans for such an addition.
"The character of football at the University of Michigan must remain collegiate," he told the Ann Arbor News.
Former athletic director Bill Martin, who oversaw the construction of the premium seating, said the boxes were necessary in order to finance the renovation project without a significant increase in ticket prices, according to an Ann Arbor News article from 2009.
Ann Arbor News photo
In 1969, U-M installed artificial 'tartan turf' in Michigan Stadium for the first time at a cost of $250,000, according to archives. Artificial turf was installed again in 1975 and 1982, but in 1991 the school returned to grass. That year crews planted 8,000 square yards of sod at a cost of $2.25 million, according to U-M archives.
Ann Arbor News articles indicate that the grass turf was difficult to maintain, and in 2003 Michigan Stadium switched back to artificial turf, which cost $620,000 to install, according to archives. The stadium still contains artificial turf today.
Ann Arbor News file photo
Michigan installed its first video boards on the south and north ends of Michigan Stadium in 1998. While the arena had held electronic scoreboards since the 1930s, the video boards were larger and more high-tech than any of the school's previous installments.
One board included a thin, horizontal marquee that highlighted game dates and upcoming events. Athletic director Dave Brandon said earlier this month that the marquee was "frankly not very useful and not very appealing," but that a the new $2.8 million iteration planned would likely be more successful.
These two new 4,000-square-foot Michigan Stadium scoreboards were installed before the start of the 2011 season. The two LED video boards are the largest scoreboards in university history and were used last season to show real-time game play, highlight student athletes in non-revenue sports and run public service announcements.
The boards and sound system are part of a $20 million package that also included new scoreboards for U-M's basketball and hockey venues.
Photo courtesy of University of Michigan
Coming: $6 million paint job and $2.8 million marquee
Brandon recently announced plans to repaint Michigan Stadium and install a 48-foot-wide marquee outside the arena. The marquee, he told regents last week, would highlight upcoming athletic events and non-revenue sports.
""It's not at all unusual for athletic campuses ... to have some sort of display board activity," Brandon said on July 19.