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Posted on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

Michigan Stadium's $226 million renovation nearly complete

By Jeff Arnold


Portions of the refurbished Michigan Stadium will be open to fans on Wednesday.

Lon Horwedel |

Rob Rademacher can't remember a summer when he's been busier preparing for an upcoming Michigan football season.

For the past 10 years, the newly appointed associate athletic director has overseen the university's athletic facilities and game-day operations. On Saturday, he anticipates spending 90 minutes explaining to his game-day staff what's new as Michigan Stadium prepares to open for its 83rd year.

Yet, there's a long list of jobs to complete before the Wolverines open the season Sept. 4 against Connecticut when Michigan Stadium is officially re-christened following a $226 million renovation.

There are new concessions areas to finish, information technology tasks that require attention, a layer of asphalt to apply to the stadium concourse and a playing surface that needs to be replaced.


Rob Rademacher

"It feels like it's part of our lives now," Rademacher said Monday. "We've been living it for three years now. When you first looked at it, you thought, 'How are we ever going to be ready for all this' but we will be. It's a lot of work, but we've got a good handle on it and I think the game-day experience is going to be awesome for everybody."

Fans will have the chance to get a glimpse the inside of Michigan Stadium on Wednesday when the university hosts an open house.

Much of the inside of the stadium - including the upper concourses - remain off limits because of safety concerns associated with ongoing construction. Rademacher believes fans will like what they see.

The east side structure will be open, and the only accessible entry point will be on the south side of the stadium through Gate 2. Once inside, fans will proceed to the steps or elevators in the southeast tower to gain access to the structure. The west side structure will not be open on Wednesday as the area remains an active construction zone.

The stadium will be open from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and free parking will be available at Pioneer High School.

Rademacher said the university is planning another open house for later this summer when all areas will be open. By the time the project is completed, Rademacher said the improvements will extend well beyond the club seating and luxury boxes.

According to associate athletic director Joe Parker, 61 of the 81 suites have been sold as has about 75 percent of the club seating. The new seating choices on the stadium's east side will be open.

The university has not yet announced the stadium's new official capacity, but it is expected to top out at more than 110,000. The original stadium, which opened in 1927 at a cost of $950,000, seated 72,000.

While the luxury suites and club seats have garnered much attention, it's the common areas of the stadium that Rademacher says are more striking. The improved stadium will offer wider aisles, more concession areas, more restrooms and the upper concourses will cut down on congestion.

Rademacher doesn't think the new seating will change the Michigan football experience, but without it, much of the improvements fans notice on game day were made possible because of the elegant new additions.

"Those are things that we didn't have before and now, they're going to be on board for everybody," Rademacher said. "I think the general fan is going to have those same impressions and they're going to think, 'I've gone to other stadiums and they had this' and we finally have it here at Michigan."

Jeff Arnold covers sports for and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by email at Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.


David Briegel

Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 8:05 p.m.

Did they eliminate the urine troughs? I would miss them! There is still no more additional room inside the "prison gates" for more people. Only the privileged few will have enough space and won't be subjected to the "atmosphere" like us serfs!


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

King Michigan built a castle,but forgot or didn,t want to build a drawbridge to the empire.Let the beast be built by the common folk of Ann Arbor,the cash donors of the new stadium are "cash Strapped"


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

The capacity for the stadium was announced as 109,901.

Mr. Tibbs

Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

226 million. and the employees still taking cuts in pay and bennies. nobody has the guts to ask for one thin dime for every sporting ticket sold to help with the city residents tax burdens what part of this do you not connect with your new health care proposals? those that has still gits.... and the rest of us still pays.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

I agree with HeartbreakM about the scoreboards!! Those definately need to be replaced with new gigantic HD scoreboards!!! They also need to have brickwork behind them to match the rest of the stadium as he had suggested.

Marvin Face

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

Locker rooms were redone two years ago. Lots of wood and a big M in the carpet! It looks great.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 9:54 p.m.

@ Marvin, my memories as a kid spawn more from the blue and watchin AC make play after play. Anyone know if they touched the lockerooms?

Marvin Face

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

remember when the chain link and barbed wire fence was painted yellow? class.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

Oh, and bring back the chain link fence with the barb wire ribbon. That was true charecter. Made it look like a prison yard for the visiting team.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 7:50 p.m.

If the team is getting rained on, all the fans should be getting rained on, and the administration who will be sitting in those unoccupied suites too. The luxury boxes are not "Big House" football. I agree that all other renovations are neeeded.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

From the outside, the stadium looks really great. Now, gotta get rid of that eyesore on the backside of the scoreboard. How could you take a classic looking brick stadium and ruin it with cheap blue and yellow plastic. Looks as gaudy as that Yellow Halo. If they were good, they would do brick there, too, and somehow imprint the M logo in it (or maybe stamped cement).

Thick Candy Shell

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

@markguy, they are opening the lane now.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 1:11 p.m.

Jeff, do you get paid per story? How many football stadium renovation stories do we need in such a short span?


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

I've been going to games at the big house since the mid 60's (general admission tickets were $1) and believe me this renovation was sorely needed and long overdue. UM was lagging behind several other "big time" instutions including OSU who BTW spends $32 million a year on football alone. It is exactly what A2 needs because all those rich people are the same ones who spend money in town and donate big money to the university. Football revenue is the engine that drives the entire athletic program (men's and women's) along with private donations. If you don't like the way UM spends their money don't buy tickets and don't go to the games. I for one applaud all the improvements to the facilities. Wilpon baseball and softball complex, Osterbaan and Al Glick fieldhouses, Varsity tennis building, and currently under construction the new UM soccer stadium just to name a few. Hopefully they will do an even better job with the Crisler arena renovation. The Big House is once again the greatest college stadium in the land.

Marvin Face

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

melissa, apparently you DO care. Thanks for commenting RobbiesBoyfriend, I will request that the helipad be added next year when I renew by suite lease.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

Ooh Connecticut is going to completely RUIN the second half of the day. @Melissa they need to add a helipad on top of the press boxes, that way the rich people dont have to walk in amongst us commoners. Smell our filthy burgers and brats.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

To add, I'm also pretty sure they're not re"christening" the stadium and just reopening it. Unless there is some hidden chapel there that I'm not aware of?


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

I. Could. Care. Less. It doesn't exactly seem like a "renovation." That implies you took an existing structure and improved it. Other than some bathrooms, this really seems like an addition. A ridiculous expensive addition for people with very deep pockets. Just what Ann Arbor needs, more rich people being oh so terribly important.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

When will the closed lane on Main be re-opened?