You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, May 19, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

Crisler Arena's $52M renovation approved by University of Michigan regents

By Kyle Feldscher


A view from the southwest entry.

University of Michigan

Designers of the Crisler Arena renovation project want the building to glow on game nights no matter how the University of Michigan’s basketball teams are playing.

The university’s Board of Regents unanimously approved the designs for the $52 million second phase of renovations at their meeting Thursday.

Among the planned renovations are glass entry ways, which will give the building its nighttime glow; more restrooms for both men and women; new concession areas and a waterfall with a glowing blue M.


The lobby, including waterfall.

University of Michigan

“As you’re coming down Stadium, there will be a glass entry and we’re adding a … window so the building will glow at night when there are events,” said Don Dethlefs, chief executive officer of Sink Combs Dethlefs, which did the design work. “And it will add natural light so we don’t have to use as much energy.”

Regents originally approved renovations to the core of Crisler Arena in October 2009. The first phase of renovations cost approximately $20 million. Both phases of the renovation will be paid for with athletic department funds.

The renovations approved Thursday amount to a whole new building wrapping around the existing Crisler Arena.


The new northeast entrance.

University of Michigan

The designs included renovations of all the building’s entryways, including a large lobby area in the northeast corner of the arena, which will have the building’s ticketing areas.

Dethlefs said the goal was to make the building “more inviting to people” and make sure they have an enjoyable time at the new Crisler Arena.

In the southeast corner of the building, fans and visitors will see a waterfall lighted up by a glowing blue block M. Dethlefs said the waterfall will serve as a means “to let people know they’re at a new Crisler.”

The project will add approximately 63,000 square feet to the arena and will include a private club space.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

It seems most people here are not so great at math. The repeated comments are that the athletic department is self-funded, that it actually ends up donating money back INTO the general education fund, and that the books are straight forward an unable to be tampered with. THIS IS COMPLETELY NOT TRUE. It is just as untrue at the University of Michigan as it is at every other university in the nation. To support the fact I list above, I present you with UofM's official FY 2010 budget: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It lists total costs for the ENTIRE athletic department as just short of 86 million dollars. This is supposed to include building maintenance, scholarships, travel, lodging, uniforms, staff, faculty, and everything else involved in an athletic department. Now I present you with simple math: The Big House renovation ran up a bill of over 250 million dollars over 3 years, and this renovation cost of 50 million over 3 years. Both of these renovations were occurring in FY 2010. Dividing 300 million by 3 gives a cost of 100 million for the year in renovation alone. This cost does not include ANY of the things I mentioned as athletic department costs except a portion of building maintenance, yet the bill adds up to more than the entire budget. To magically make this number seem smaller and make the department look profitable, Michigan does the exact same thing as every other college campus around the country: The University finances the athletic department improvements with INTEREST FREE long term loans. The University then charges each student hundreds of dollars a year in &quot;student athletic fees&quot; which it then refers to as revenue for the athletic department. I would like to explain this last point further: In order to take EDUCATIONAL classes at the University of Michigan, you must pay the athletic department. That is not profit, that is theft.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

Just things Id like people to ponder, I dont know the answer If the Athletic Department has its own separate budget apart from the school, what makes it a part of the school? Do we really know if athletes attend classes (it appears they don't at OSU and Kentucky(sometimes))? It is something to ponder. We don't tax schools because they are state owned, but you would think that a state owned entity would be able to share some of its huge revenues with the state. Does the A.D. get taxed on its income? If you decided the A.D. was basically separate, why dont they pay tax, and how much would that be? We elect the trustees at these schools, but does anyone pay attention to who they are? You really cant tell, but how much of this is gonna be a private club? How many of us are doing well enough to spend the money for admission to the club? Are the recent improvements to the stadium and crisler for regular fans, the wealthy, or cater to both accordingly? Does the U care what we think?

Ron Granger

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

It sounds like they want to light up the sky with light pollution. And I hope they've given some though to public safety. Next thing you know, they'll be demanding that the city close Stadium Blvd. It sounds like they want to make it like The Palace- just a souless place of corporatism.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

I'm excited. I was there when it opened and the improvements are long overdue.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

Note to the nattering nabobs of negativism: The money spent on the Crisler renovations, on the Big House, and on numerous other construction projects at the U, engage local construction contractors, employ local construction workers, and use material oftentimes bought from local suppliers. And this is a bad thing? Some people will complain about anything. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

Yes Ed, every time I see your name I get ready to disagree, and then you post something so reasonable like this. Cut it out.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

Ed, would you please stop making comments I agree with ? It's beginning to throw my balance off


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

When will the renovation be complete?

Matt Whale

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

The Arena is very nice but the expansion took away 1/4 to 1/2 the parking spaces surrounding it. I haven't looked at the prices for parking. Which is more expensive, the parking lot surrounding Chrisler or at Pioneer? More people will have to park at Pioneer.

Marvin Face

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

The parking has been removed temporarily only for construction staging and will return when the project opens.

Matt Whale

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

For people that have a mobilty problem, yes. There are very limited handicapped parking spots at Crisler and the football games.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

GASP!!! Walking another couple hundred yards to get to the stadium. That may double or triple most people's weekly exercise amounts.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

This can only help recruiting. Soon, Michigan will once again be a destination school for elite recruits. It's only a matter of time before the balance of power in the state is fully restored.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Go Blue!

Boo Radley

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

I hope that after this renovation, they will start using this arena for concerts and entertainment events again. I used to go to concerts at Crisler many years ago. It would sure be nice if they would bring them back and give us another local concert venue.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Think they'll still have 4 ticket, 4 dogs and 4 cokes for $40? HHmmmmm....


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

That may be replaced with 4 seats on the club level, 4 crust-less cheese sandwiches, and 4 glasses of Chardonnay for $4,000


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

This renovation is long overdue - probably should have been started 10 years ago. But, the rendition pictures look great. It will be MUCH better when all this work is done. Having more space in the public areas will help a lot. Sometimes after games, you can be stuck like cattle in some areas there are so many people. And I'm praying they get rid of the food vendor that's been serving that junk for years and bring in some much better choices.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

So, when did the basketball team start making it to the playoffs? While several million dollars are being thrown at the Basketball team and the (as we all know it) suddenly terrible football program, the Hockey team has been consistently doing very well, and it took a wall falling down at the Yost Ice Arena to get any sort of improvement. I was a regular at the hockey games, and may be again, but I've watched the stadium and the baseball field and Crisler all get big expensive makeovers while Yost remains a building with a heart and soul, get an old, decaying shell. Here is another idea...maybe provide a little more parking and take away a little less. That's my rant, thank you.

Marvin Face

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

Yost was the first of all the athletic facilities to be renovated (2001). New seating was added as a balcony on the east side and all the offices, etc were renovated. There has also been recent locker room improvements and improvements to the south seats.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Definitely time for Yost Arena renovations too! Go Blue!

Karl Couyoumjian

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:02 p.m.

Don't despair Alvan. The Yost renovation is coming sooner than you think.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:09 a.m.

With all the cuts to public services it is nice to know that State money still goes to the U of M. I would hate to see them feel the economic crunch like the taxpayers do.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 10:55 a.m.

The marketing and business aspects of college sports were pioneered here by Mr. Don Canham. UM paved the way for successful college programs across the country. The major capital improvements of the past five years help keep UM at the forefront of NCAA D1 sports, and within its tradition. Strong programs + modern facilities + supportive fans = continued UM athletic existence, as well as success for our young women and men student athletes. Thank you UM for your continued investment in the world, its people, and Ann Arbor. Those &quot;old bones&quot; are looking pretty good in the architect's renderings. Nice to see the end result, after driving past the construction daily.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

what investment in ann arbor?


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:05 a.m.

The University is so rich. As an alumni, I'd never consider donating money to them. I just love their little fundraiser letters in my box every month. (I might consider donating to the medical center however, the only worthy thing over there). And don't forget, The University pays no taxes in the city, for every square foot of real estate they take up, they pay not a penny!! So we get out taxes raised to make up for the eroding tax base due to the every expanding University. Plus they only teach one point of view over there and we all know what that is.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 1:20 a.m.

Awakened, Hillsdale has a different POV than U of M that is certain.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

The UM respects and handles the financial side of things better than any public university in the country. Would you prefer it be in the same sad shape as the entire State of Michigan? I'm thrilled that Chrysler Arena will be renovated! It should have been done years ago - but what better time than now when jobs continue to be desperately needed. I don't understand your comment &quot;they only teach one point of view&quot;... that leads me to believe you are not an alumni of the UM.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

Ryan, as an adult bounced back to the academic world I have found that public universitiies have both points of view.... Extreme liberal and communist. If you want anything like a balenced education you must go to a private school like Hillsdale.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:46 a.m.

Why did you go there if you don't agree with the POV? You could have always gone to the big green spartan...


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

I am amazed by these negative comments. For 20 years everyone has known that Crisler is gloomy and obsolete. Now they finally approve remodels and we get townies whining about it. Seriously, this is something UM has been working on for decades. Quit yer whining.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

Raise tuition, housing, etc. Raises to faculty. Take money from K-12. Make the basketball arena real nice. Priorities are all screwed up. No one seems to know the right thing to do anymore.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:20 a.m.

Thats over $300 million in improvements in the past couple years. It would have been awesome if the U was like, &quot;hey we could make the approach look nice and help the city repair this bridge right here . . . . . .


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

I just meant crisler and the football field, it may be wrong though and i should have stated thats what I meant. I thought football was around $250m? Im not sure.

Marvin Face

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

deb, the number is actually closer to $600 million

Marshall Applewhite

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

pssst..... (The bridge already has necessary funding to be repaired)


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

Can we call it the House that Martin built? Tom, I am seeing your point. Here is something, the U of M should just buy Pioneer and its land for their athletic campus. We have enough high schools around town and the populatiuon is only going to get smaller as paradise gets paved over and dug up for parking lots.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

Yes, community access used to show the documentary of building pi-hi back in the day. You do realize the university got the old Ann Arbor high at the corner of state and huron in that property trade, right?


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

You do realize that the University originally did own the land where Pioneer is located - they sold it to the city so that the high school could be built there.

tom swift jr.

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

we can't afford to fund k-12 education, but we can divert those funds to public universities, so they can improve the training ground for the NBA.... nice.... Folks, your culture, your society, is so screwed up there really isn't much hope...


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

I agree with Tom. And I understand EXACTLY how academic education and sports are funded. But take a macro view, and look at our system holistically. We can't pay for basic education in k-12 schools, universities are raising tuition, and yet, we can find millions for entertainment. Says a lot about us.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

I agree with Tom Swift's sentiment that maybe the $52M could be spent more wisely... but if it's athletic department raised funds, sounds like the U of M has last word on how it's spent. Still, I don't see Crisler Arena/Basketball being a wise investment for increasing athletic department revenue, regardless.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:18 a.m.

So jojob, So I suppose if Tom Monaghan builds an ugly eye sore in Ann Arbor, he should have spent it on something else. The city takes in LESS money without a strong athletic dept. Remember how many people from OUTSIDE the city and state come to town for the athletic programs. Why not complain to the state about reducing business taxes and spending money on prisons instead of schools

Marshall Applewhite

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

&quot; Yes, money in different pots. Maybe that's what bothers some of us.&quot; People and entities deciding what to do with their own money?!? What a travesty!


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

Dude the athletic department is self funding and does not get any funds from the university's funds. Ticket sales and TV pay for this stuff. I do agree too much is put into sports but it is entertainment.

Jojo B

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

@johnnya2 and A2Realilty: Most of us understand how the money is in different pots, but you can hopefully understand the ironies here. All we read about is shortfalls in K2 education and at the UM level, academic departments are cutting back, UM departments and IT resources are forced to cut back and scrimp on service, and UM staff are barely given merit increases that come close to matching the cost of living increases. But we can throw millions at non-stop development of the football stadium and now Crisler Arena. And we chop down the fairly new gigantic M scoreboard to replace it with yet another more expensive, more advanced one. All this while we can't even fix the Stadium Blvd bridge that's only 500 feet away. Yes, money in different pots. Maybe that's what bothers some of us.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

Unfortunately Tom, I don't think that you understand how this project is funded at all. It is being paidfor by the athletic department not through any general fund at the University. The athletic department, by the way, pays the tuition (out of state no less) for all of its student athletes. No money that would have gone toward K-12 education (which I fully support) will be spent on the renovations. If you want to get angry at individual donors for sending their money to the athletic department, then that's fine; however, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they would have sent it to fund K-12 education instead.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

You really do not understand how the athletic dept is funded if you believe your drivel. The athletic department is SELF SUPPORTING. It actually helps the U by paying tuition for all scholarship athletes. The revenues generated by football, basketball and hockey fully fund ALL athletic operations. Consider it a division of the U that actually allows the state to cut back on funding. If the athletic department were disbanded tomorrow the state funding would not change, the amount for education would not change. The net effect would actually be a NEGATIVE, because the money for the athletic department is given by people who CHOOSE to attend games.

Kai Petainen

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.