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 Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 4:51 p.m.

Dave Brandon says renovated Michigan Stadium blends new with old, maintaining venue's tradition

By Jeff Arnold


Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon talks about the changes to Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.

Lon Horwedel |

Dave Brandon has ushered guests through Michigan Stadium for weeks now, showing off what $226 million will buy in renovations.

The response is often the same as the Michigan athletic director watches the wow factor of the new suites and club seating sink in. But the 81 boxes and nearly 3,000 club seats are just part of a Michigan football experience that Brandon believes offers something for everyone.

Yet, for all of the additions including 297 new flat screen televisions, 797 speakers, the 5,100 square feet of granite in the suites and the 1.89 million bricks inscribed with a Block M that are shaped 52 different ways, Michigan Stadium feels it always did.

Just with a fresh face.

"The things this stadium means to the University of Michigan and the meaning it has in the hearts and minds of our alums, our supporters and our fans is just incredible," Brandon said Wednesday. "So to go in and change it was a big decision, it was one we're incredibly thoughtful about, it was one that had risk, but I am very, very pleased."

As fans passed through the new east structure Wednesday, they gawked at their surroundings, posing for pictures inside luxury boxes while testing the comfort level of the chairs in the club seating areas.


Michigan football fans check out the view of the stadium from what once was outside of the top row of the east side of the stadium, but now is the first few rows of the new club seats.

Lon Horwedel |

For all of the stadium's storied history, modern amenities such as etched glass designed with winged helmets, rich wood surroundings and large open common areas enhance the areas fans got a chance to see during Wednesday's open house.

Fathers like Mark Neumann from Ypsilanti held infant sons, overlooking a freshly Field Turf-covered field that hasn't yet been painted. Neumann comes to only the occasional game, sitting as close to Michigan's student section as he can. But for a day, he got an overview of the field below from the club seating level that begins at $3,000 plus the $375 cost of a season ticket.

"I came in here, and I was like, 'Wow,'" Neumann said during Wednesday's public open house. "Then they told me how much it cost, and I was like, 'Wow.' "

Fans on Wednesday stood at the ends of the east-side structure, taking in aerial views of Ann Arbor's skyline and the University of Michigan golf course. They looked down as stadium workers stroked maize paint over the unpainted Block M in the lower bowl and completed brickwork in the plaza outside the stadium tunnel.

They sat inside luxury boxes that will seat as many as 22, appreciating elevated sight lines while soaking in many of the changes that have been incorporated into the three-year renovation project.

"I can appreciate the $226 million costs now," said Bill Berlin, a 1959 Michigan graduate and season ticket holder. "It's impressive. We were so accustomed to the way it was and we had concerns (about changes), but it's terrific. We're up to speed now."

In addition to all the structural changes, Brandon said the improvements will change the way a typical Michigan game sounds. According to estimates, the noise level on the field will be 30 percent louder.

"I actually think the people downtown heard more noise than the people on the 50-yard line did because of the way that sounds spreads from the bowl," said Brandon, a former Michigan football player. "That's part of the design that I think is really going to improve the atmosphere as well. I think the stadium will rock and roll a lot more."

Michigan officials are re-seating the stadium, providing more room for fans who in the past have felt squeezed. More restrooms and concession stands along with more concourse space to move around in will cut down congestion.

Sales of luxury seating, which tops out at $85,000 a year, continues to go well, Brandon said. Associate athletic director Joe Parker said Wednesday that of the 61 suites that have been committed to, 60 percent have been sold to individuals while the remaining 40 percent have gone to corporate entities.

Parker has been pleased with the way sales have continued, especially recently at the club seating level. While other stadiums that have undergone renovations have taken up to three years to reach capacity, Parker believes it may not take that long to fill the remaining vacant luxury seating.

Michigan's only other foray into luxury seating was when the school added club seating at Yost Ice Arena. It took three years to reach capacity there. But Parker knows Michigan football has a different following.

"I feel very good about where we're at," he said. "I've got to believe just based on reaction as we get more exposure for the project that we'll be at 100 percent before three years."

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



Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

The stadium does look very nice and clean.On your first game,you better watch out for U-CONN.They are not your normal first game team.They are loaded on both sides of the ball.They will play smash mouth football too.Randy and Rich had some words after a couple of games while at WVU.Rich ran it up on him several times,and Rich never lost him.Randy can coach,he was the best coach in the Big East,even when Rich was there.This will be a very interesting opening day game to say the least.Stay Tuned

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Classic...America's best Stadium for America's best team...Go Blue...

Lorain Steelmen

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

CFair, thanks for your comments regarding the band. I agree totally! I sit in the southwest corner, and no one can hear the band once they move into the stands. They might as well have the band march out to the parking lot and sit out there, for all they're worth. The fix is easy. Just move the band to the north endzone, sect.31, which would be next to the students. That way, the sound carries to the ENTIRE stadium. What a concept!?! Check out the number of other teams in the league that put their bands in the endzone to solve this problem.....


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 10:38 p.m.

Agree on the comment re ltplay. This losing has got to end. Homefield advantage and noise means absolutely nothing if it's not backed up on the field. Back in the heyday Mich had the advantage even with the loss of sound... why? They won. Consistently. Re the stadium - big yay on the +30% sound but WTF on the stubborn blind refusal to move the damn band to the endzone so the stadium can HEAR them?!! Or do they like being overshadowed consistently by visiting bands? Their location eliminates half the stadium from hearing them. Bravo on the idiot that moved them. The BS answers rec'd on this are just that - fans complaining they have to stand... there's room on the endzone in the student section where they stand all day - there's no stairs... they built new structures outside the stadium AND a new press box... are stairs in front of a gate that damned hard to build?


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.

Shame rich Rod can't respect tradition much less win some games.....oh I forgot the cupboard was bare LOL


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

how about a renovation to our coaching staff. damn i am tired of being humbled all the rod please show us you understand what a rivalry is and win some important games