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Posted on Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : noon

U-M needs to do a better job with safety during Crisler Arena renovations

By Letters to the Editor

On Thursday (Dec. 23), I attended my first men's basketball game of this year's season. Michigan played Bradley. Michigan won! The arena was almost full. It was a great game, the crowd had fun and almost everyone stayed to the end. The new scoreboards are wonderful and the seating is, after years of springs in my backside, comfortable.

However alterations are continuing. Doors have been boarded over. For the entire south and west sides there is only one exit and that exit leads to a wooden stairway (where people are forced to move slowly and carefully). On the east side an exit has been removed to accommodate the new practice/recruiting facility. At the end of the game the crowd was totally gridlocked for fifteen minutes. For 15 minutes, we stood tightly packed in the outer rim hallway without moving at all. Total gridlock.

What would have happened if there was a fire? Is this a disaster waiting to happen? Should we be taking a gamble that there will be no fire?

U-M can do better. During this construction phase, the flow could be one-way after the game. All vendors could be shut down a few minutes before the end of the game. Another south end stairway could be added. Dr. Coleman, Mr. Brandon, if there was a fire or a panic, the liability you are exposing U of M to could bankrupt our wonderful institution. People are being put at risk. Please, act now. Fix the inadequate egress before anything terrible happens.

Ken Fink
Ann Arbor


Chelsea Larry

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

As a season ticket holder for UM BB, I attend most games. And yes, the concorse is tight. That's why the construction is taking place, to fix this. Restrooms are inadequate as well, also being addressed with the project. Food choices poor, also being worked on. Crisler, like many projects of it's time were designed for the fans of the day. Needs are different now. People want to show up 5 minutes before the game and walk right to their seat. And have more ammenties, more food choices, more seating choices. I don't think that in the 60's and 70's, everyone was in such a hurry either. Look at The Joe. Similar problem. I've been to new Pro Hockey and BB Arena's around the country. Big difference. They're really built for more comfort these days. I'm glad that Michigan decided to renovate, rather then rebuild. Michigan Stadium, Crisler, Yost, all they needed was a few hundred $Million of TLC. And the fans are willing to pay, so good for them. The PA announcer tells the fans to use the exit nearest their seat. Do they listen? Heck no. Today, after the Wisconsin game (GREAT GAME) I was 30 feet from the door, and here were people headed the other way, to a door at the other side of the arena. Ugh... and it wasn't even very cold outside. That's a big part of the gridlock. But it's like herding cats, so it is what it is. I'm looking forward to the 2012-13 season, for the Crisler Center completion, but this year's team is too much fun to watch to get too far ahead of ourselves. Go Blue!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Interesting point about fire saftey....I'm curious about the City of Ann Arbor's fire department point of view on this. I'm assuming the fire department gave their ok with this when permits to reconstruct were pulled.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

Really? So when this mythical fire happens, it will only happen at the end of the game when 10k people are filing out. Having 1, 2, or even 10 more entrances is going to be the difference? What about if a fire happens during the game? How are you going to get all those people out of their seats, into the concourse and out of the arena? This is really a complaint about having to wait for 15 minutes, and has NOTHING to do with safety. IF you are so concerned about safety, why not check the statistics of how many people died in car accidents (the mode a good portion of those people took to get to the arena) in Ann Arbor in 2011 versus how many died because of ANYTHING at Crisler. I guess we should shut down the roads to make Ann Arbor a safer town. As with anything , there is a risk/benefit. If you think that risk of fire is too high, stay home. The rest of us will enjoy the game and not worry about how fast that fire will spread through the concrete at Crisler


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Regarding the gridlock, the same thing happened to my wife and I at a game last year. It isn't fun. And the risk for injury in the event of a fire or other emergency is higher. I would hope U-M corrects this problem soon and that when the renovations are finished, that the flow of traffic out of the arena is much better.


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

I'm not so worried about the concrete catching on fire but the nets when "23 for 3" heats up!


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

1) The article accurately points out that ALL colleges haven't kept pace with their professional brethern in terms of event safety. This point is even more apparent where decisions were slow to be made and lines of authority were unclear at football games of Blue, Sparty and that place in Indiana with the shiny helmets during this past season. Between the 3 venues, over a quarter million people were exposed to thunderstorms and nobody knew who could call the game because it was "non-conference game." 2) Actually, my point in posting is a question. Since B-ball is a minor sport in my mind, I always assumed UM's venue was "Chrysler Arena" and named for a large financial gift. Only in the last few years I learned it is named after Fritz Crisler, a FOOTBALL coach. Why name your B-ball venue after a FB coach? Yes, I know he was AD at the time of construction. However, names are generally reserved for PAST accomplishments, not current employment. What gives?


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

To answer your question about Crisler - when it was originally dedicated in 1967, it was named the University Events Building. After Fritz Crisler retired in 1968, it was renamed Crisler Arena in his honor in 1970. As to why it was not named after a basketball player or coach, I can't answer other than the BB program had not had any long-term coaches up until that time worthy of the naming honor. Dave Strack was probably the most successful one (left in 1968), but only coached 9 years at U-M. They probably didn't want to name it after so recent of a player like Cazzie Russell either.


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

It is a much better than being named for a discount furniture chain where OSU plays.


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

I also am concerned over concrete lighting on fire! It would take lives and massively reduce our current status quo of chemistry understanding......


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Brilliant and insightful. Fire is a hazard at Crisler concrete or no concrete. To make light of the writer's concern isn't funny in the least.