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Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Paint the Big House? U-M athletic director David Brandon announces $200M construction agenda

By Kellie Woodhouse


Melanie Maxwell |

If you see some men taking a paintbrush to Michigan Stadium sometime in February, don't be alarmed.

They're professionals.

University of Michigan athletic director David Brandon believes Michigan Stadium's paint job needs some sprucing up -- and he's willing to pay the price.

"We need to paint Michigan Stadium," he said, adding jokingly: "It's only a mere $6 million."

If approved by the U-M Board of Regents, the project would begin in February.

The painting project is one of eleven renovation or new construction projects Brandon introduced before regents Thursday.

The school plans to spend $4 million to replace scoreboards in 2013, although Brandon did not specify which ones. Last year the athletic department spent $20 million to replace the football, hockey and basketball boards.

Also in 2013, athletics will renovate the field hockey facility for $9.5 million and expand its softball facility for $3 million. The department has set aside $12 million for a lacrosse locker room and facility project in 2014.

Those projects are far less expensive than the ones planned for 2015. That year the school plans to begin building a $25 million rowing and strength and conditioning facility and a $90 million indoor and outdoor track facility.

In 2017 the school plans build a $30 million multipurpose competition arena and expand its swimming, diving and water polo facility for $20 million.

The projects are part of Brandon's plan to spend $250 million on non-revenue sport facilities in the next seven years.

Though planned, the projects are subject to regents' approval.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

Okay, so there are those of you that don't like the money being spent on the athletics. Well, there are those of us that are not envious or jealous of this money being spent on the athletic depart. The US spends some serious money all over the world helping people and we are hated. We sacrafice our young country men and women in the military and these countries still stick it to us on oil. More often than not when we contribute money, food, medical etc. the poor don't see a dime of it, it goes into the pockets of government crooks or the," educated". Student tuition is a separate issue vs the athletic depart. and it's income generated by the gates and TV exposure. Hey, I just put my wife through a very expensive trade school which the government paid 80% of because I served in the military which almost cost me my life and a lifetime of living handicapped. I served and I'd do it again even after hearing the bellyaching from some of you. If you don't like what Dave Brandon is doing at least if I were one of you complainers well I just wouldn't attend any athletic events cause if I did attend that would make me a hypocrite.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

KELLIE WOODHOUSE clearly wrote this article to incite outrage from the ignorant "what about the children ?" faction. A fake concern that is spawned from jealousy and envy of what others have and their inability to excel in a world where talent gives you an advantage. To many of these people, sports represent just that.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

If you are unable to understand what they create you need to take an economics 101 coarse or just open your eyes to the world around you. It just so happens they make the world go round. Talented ? Very much so, otherwise everyone would be doing it. But, seriously, you sound very wise and obviously know what you are talking about with your predictable jealous, clicheish, cynical comments.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Yes our wall street financiers and bankers and politicians excel because they are talented at what? They create what?

Larry Weisenthal

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

The majority of those making comments seem to be supportive of football, but outraged at the expense of so-called "minor" sports. Where to begin? 1. People like football, because it's an entertainment spectacle. Michigan football pays for itself, but about 25% of Division 1A programs operate at a deficit. Additional negative factors are (1) brain and other injuries and (2) the fact that a great many football players are not college-level student athletes in the true sense of the word. 2. The university provides educational and career opportunities for its students. Michigan offers 27 Division I varsity sports. Harvard offers 41 Division I varsity sports. Elite sports competition offers lifelong advantages to both students and to the university. A study of Ivy League graduates showed that, on average, athletes earned higher incomes and made larger monetary donations to the university as alumni than did non-athletes. Athletics prepares students for careers though teaching self discipline, time management, physical fitness and endurance (ability to work hard), and teamwork. Additionally, some minor sports athletes aspire to careers in athletics, from coaching, to sports medicine, to administration. It's just as important to have a high level background in athletics, for these occupations, as it is to have a major in economics or engineering, for students going into those fields. 3. Virtually all "minor sport" athletes are true college-level student athletes. 4. Facilities and total costs for supporting athletics are not out of proportion to that for a number of other academic programs, which prepare students for post-graduate careers. 5. Most "minor sports" do not predictably cause brain damage and other types of life long disabilities. Conclusion: I'd argue that the swimming, softball, lacrosse, etc. programs have greater "legitimacy" than football, in terms of the university's education mission. - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

Larry, "In terms of the university's mission" and the legitimate students, how many of those types of students use their education towards a life of greed and dishonesty. Does anyone on this site know how President Ford got his start ?


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

When I was getting soda and dogs last year I noticed the grey paint was really bad. I thought if the people were going to be vibrating the stands, this might cause the grey chips to fall in the drinks and food. I think this project should have been done allready. If you disagree, you havent seen the condition of the upper stands recently. Tim fro tecumseh


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 8:40 a.m.

Am i the only one who notices the amount of money being spent is in the Whole Millions? seems like a strange to me that only one (9.5) is not a whole number. If i were smart enough to be on the board I would be suspicious.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

Rounding occurs because these are estimated costs, not actual. The margin of error is so high that making relatively minute discrepancies is ultimately negligible.

Tom Todd

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Dave is Mr. 1%.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

This is the world we live in. I like the world we live in and I have traveled to other countries some of which were 3rd world while I was in the Air Force. People from all over the world want to live here and be part of the world you and I live in. Is everything in our world fair and politically correct, absolutely not and I doubt it ever will be. Is there greed and gluttony such as described in this article, absolutely. Dave Brandon has visions of grandeur for his beloved school and football program, sports in general at Mich. Is some of what Dave's doing over the top, absolutely. Some will like what Dave Brandon is projecting and some will despise Dave for the cost of the projects and improvements in general, again, welcome to the real world. The paint job seems a bit extravagant but then again so does my grocery tab and the price of gas. I like what's happening at Mich. sports wise and I'm sure that there are many that will disagree with me but then again, welcome to the real world, oh and by the way, you don't have to like it, just yell loudly at the games.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

Very well put. David Brandon as done very well, with what I consider conservative (not lavish) improvements appropriate for such a university. With his extensive business (and marketing) background, one would expect him going way over the top on such items - he has not. He is protecting the Michigan investment and giving the student-athletes the very top-of-the-line facilities. I agree, this is what I like - isn't it a great world !

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Financial institutions would call it 'protecting their investment'. You have the greatest college football of all time, playing in America's greatest college football facility (Big House) - you need to keep the monument sparkling. Thank goodness this great American football organization has been so successful in not only winning, but making money - which in turn allows them to finance other sports at UM and provide up to date (okay the best) facilities for them. Don't worry complainers, Mr. Brandon and Ms. Coleman secured proper bids for the painting project per protocol, you may not believe it, but they passed 8.5M and the 11.8M offers. MgoBlueForTiM...protecting Michigan's investment for America.

Don Brake

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Gosh, this is good for UM in particular, and Ann Arbor in general. All of this construction has to help the local/regional economy. And from what I've heard, that area's already leading the state.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

Yea, that big M on the back of the scoreboard does look a little dull. There is a simple plan and I'm sure Mr. Brandon has it all figured out. 110,000 go to seven or eight games a year. Raise ticket prices a mere $10, maybe .50 each for concessions and the surplus grows. It's a no brainer because its all about growth, right? For those that don't like it there is a long waiting list to buy your tickets. Student loans????? Come on, poor people don't go to um.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

They go to UM for education, things like being able to spell 'cedar' and such.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

This is all part of a long term master plan to prepare a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Did Student Painters get an opportunity to bid on this job? Since the stadium is called the "Big House" shouldn't it be painted gray?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Is the University a SCHOOL? Or a minor league sports program.

Honest Abe

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

I love the University of Michigan. I have a degree from them. But....I hate UM Sports. Especially UM football. The almighty UM loves football more than human life itself.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Jeeze guys. This is America isn't it?? Football was pretty damn enjoyable entertainment last I checked. Lighten up.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

But Abe, they won't consider you a Michigan Man if you don't fall in line and worship everything U-M.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Agreed! Spend the money on the poor.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

It's a good time to be a painting contractor! ;-) That $5.8 million surplus: needs an address to be sent to. I'll give permission to let Dave Brandon have mine. Don't worry, D.B., I'll be leasing a Big House Sky box right after I get the $5.8 mill. Or- just keep $.8 mill of that total for sending the Michigan Marching Band to nationally televised games.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

This is so true. People forget that when the Athletic Department funds construction projects, that is money going straight into the state of Michigan's economy. Everybody was so supportive of Obama's stimulus plan that funded a bunch of crap that nobody wanted... at least this construction work will benefit real people... and all of the money was earned by the Athletic Department fairly or received as willing donations, and not stolen from families via taxation and insurmountable public dept.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

This is out-and-out obscene; just because football, basketball and hockey are the big moneymakers does not mean that all of that profit has to be spent on athletics. How CAN they talk about, for instance, $9.5 million for field hockey and $12 million for lacrosse (not exactly attendance sell-outs, I would guess) when there are so many other pressing needs at UM (alleviating student loan overload, for example)?


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

If the athletic department din't support the non-revenue sports that you so kindly mentioned above, they would run in to serious trouble with Title IX. Athletics brings revenue not just to the department, but also to Ann Arbor as a whole. All that hotel, restaurant and retail business is part of what keeps Ann Arbor so bright and exciting. And alleviating student loans? Try some of those same non-revenue sports. There are plenty of full and partial scholarships going to hardworking student athletes that are juggling training, practice and competition with getting a world-class education. Athletics is the way they've found of reducing their student loans.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

I will paint the big house for only 5 million......srsly.....

Honest Abe

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

I know it is not taxpayer money. I know. But there are so many people who need things, but while they are going without, the half a billion dollar Big House will receive even more work. It seems the almighty UM Athletic Dept loves spending big money. Just think, the Big house is only used 8 times yearly. To bad UM did not offer a $200 Million dollar hunger package.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

If the Michigan tax payer cared about hungry people, they wouldn't fund the University of Michigan Athletic Department so frivolously. Instead of giving massive donations to the football team, they would reallocate that money to various nonprofit organizations and charities. The money that the athletic department earns is a direct representation of the "social value" placed on it's good/service to the community. Michigan Football > Feeding Hungry People.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I expect that the "project" that begins in February would be the larger construction program. If they meant painting it must be inside. In fact, I don't see if Brandon means to paint inside, outside or both...


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

I'd like to see the plans for where some of these new facilities are going to be located. The south campus is already pretty much packed. Are they going to buy up and tear down some other buildings?


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

I would assume that at least some of them will be up by the Tennis/Gymnastics/Soccer campus down state street. There seems to be plenty of space left up there.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

"...a mere $6 million"? When do we start talking about real money?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Don Canahm had this done back in the day for like $50,000 I think. I've heard the story but can rememebr the exact figure.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

..unfortunately, that's who will likely be painting it anyway, smoke..


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

You can repaint the stadium but it's not going to help the Football Team! It will just make all of the "Big Blues" feel better after this season!

Honest Abe

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Lipstick on a pig, XMO. I agree with you.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

$6 million to paint the stadium. The original cost of the stadium was 950 thousand. In the course of one lifetime that's what's happened to the dollar and America. It cost 6 times more to paint a stadium than to build one.

Kent Jocque

Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

Leonard: For God's sake, Sheldon, do I have to hold up a sarcasm sign every time I open my mouth? Sheldon (intrigued): You have a sarcasm sign? -Kent (The Big Bang fan)


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Scott..ain't that the truth, and it doesn't require 1 million gallons of paint, mostly trim work.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

why wouldn't they paint the stadium before the winter classic?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Hockey fans is the reason... makes good sense paint after that game!

Ron Granger

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

"Painting in February? What kind of paint will they use?" Don't worry Craig - they will be coating everything in GOLD.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

That's funny except Brian Kelly, from Notre Dame, requested real gold flakes be added to the paint on the Fighting Irish football helmets... yeah...


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Didn't know the Big House needed a fresh coat of paint. Starting in February? Does the AD believe in global warming? The overall state of the athletic facilities is improving, some like the track is woefully behind the times. It would be nice to get those folks higher in the pecking order.

Josh Skodack

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Completely agree mrunner. I don't like how the track facilities are at the tail end of the planned facilities upgrades. However, track and field is not money generating sport unlike football, basketball, and ice hockey.

Tom Wieder

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I'm a bit confused here. The Athletic Dept. just spent $225M to enlarge and refurbish the stadium. Why wasn't the new paint job included in that?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

I actually wondered that, too, Tom. When the stadium was rededicated in 2010, I was frankly embarrassed as an alum and season ticket holder that they spent all those bucks on these amazing renovations, and neglected to put the finishing touches on with a fresh paint job. From the outside you could see all kinds of places. My guess is that it wasn't so much a money concern, but a time concern. Couldn't fit it in the scheduled in time to reopen for the 2010 season. (Note they are starting this in FEBRUARY... probably so it can get completed, dried, cured, in time for football season.)


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

U of M just raised tuition for both in State and out of State students. This money (coming from parents and tax payers via loans) will pay for all the paint.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

Trouble, at least make an honest argument. I can't debate an illogical statement.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

No, the Athletic Department does not use tuition. It uses revenue from gate receipts, TV contracts, licensing,...


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Oh! I know, paint an obnoxious bright yellow stripe around the top of the stadium! People will love it! Then, cover it with some big wording about leaders and victors and stuff.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

Ross, so you don't like football, I do.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Painting in February? What kind of paint will they use? I'm no professional painter but even cold weather paints have limits if its a cold February.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

Craig, it's called February paint and in March they'll use, March paint and in April they'll use.........


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

must need a new coat of paint to spruce up the bighouse for all of the weddings that are lined up.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

I was at a UM lunch event a few weeks ago and couldn't believe the decadence. We normal people can barely pay our bills and here they were drinking ROYAL CROWN cola!

melissa towle

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

seriously? How about using money to lower tuition rates (especially for in state students) or offer more graduate scholarships... I know we all love our Michigan football but seriously?


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

Where is Melissa to answer for her "false understanding" of this situation ? The money that is paying for these improvements is generated from the sports that in turn benefit from the improvements. Without proper and wise investments profits are compromised. They have every right to do whatever they wish to do with their own money and should never feel obligated to have to answer to anyone with the gall to question it. No-one wants to pay to watch some kid talk about his new "false understanding" of how the world works indoctrinated upon him by some professor who never had to survive in the real world anyway. We choose to spend our money on the things we enjoy and choose to support and hope their profit is invested to enhance our future experience. It's called living in a free country and those who wish to force to change our freedom to choose will be effectively dealt with, despite being led to believe otherwise. These totalitarian fascists feeble attempt to do so will always be destroyed due to the superior strength of the resolve of the ever present people determined to keep this country free.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Both very true Wally. It was more of a comparison of the quality of education. I was hitting at the point that its not a small no name school but I understand where you are coming from.

Wally the Wolverine

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

Jacob, I'd be careful with the Ivy League comparisons. The Ivy Leagers are the ones that gave us the banking meltdown and a bloated federal government that's buckling under its debt load. On second thought, I guess some could argue DB's spending plan parallels what's going on at Pennsylvania Ave and Wall St.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

I guess my question would be: why should they? They have a quality of education arguably similar (but not equal) to Ivy league yet they are a fraction of the cost. Among other schools in the state they are right in line. 18 Credits at Eastern is $5154.30, Central is $6570, State is $7,347.50 and U of M is $7023. <---All taken straight from the respected sites.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Josh, there's nothing stopping the AD from moving funds to the general budget. If athletics couldn't cover its own costs, we all know they'd be subsidized by the general budget. No reason it shouldn't go the other way.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

They just did the opposite!

Josh Skodack

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

The University general budget and the athletics are completely separate entities. Michigan is one of the few universities that does not draw from the general budget to fund athletics.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

And he balked at sending the Michigan Marching Band to Dallas????


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

The Michigan Marching Band isn't part of the athletic department. It's a class, ENS 348, to be specific. The band raises it's own funds and allocates the necessary money to travel to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Generally, the bowl game pays for the Michigan Marching Band to travel to the post season games. This is why it was announced that the band wouldn't travel to Texas to play Alabama. It's not one of the three designated "away" games so the band had no funding for it. Fortunately, the outcry of fans and rich donors made traveling to the Alabama game possible for the band. I'm sure Dave Brandon had the money to fund the MMB but it's out of his scope of influence. He is the athletic director and the MMB is not in the athletic department.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Where are the projects that will create new buildings going to be located?

Ron Granger

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Wherever they want to put them. They couldn't care less about the impact to the community.