At a meeting this morning, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a renovation plan for Michigan Stadium, WXYT reported. The plan calls for improved concessions, more restrooms, wider aisles and seats, a new press box and the controversial addition of enclosed seating at a cost of $226 million. The project, which is likely to begin construction in 2008 and be wrapped up in time for the 2010 season, will be funded through private donations and through the revenue generated by the new seating.
"The Stadium has undergone many significant changes throughout its history, and this project will represent another major change to its appearance," Athletics Director Bill Martin said. "As the stadium enters this new phase, we will make certain the renovations are of high quality. We will respect the stadium's tradition and character."
The new look of Michigan Stadium was a sticking point for a few of the Regents, WXYT reporter Jeff Riger said.
"When the regents discussed the plan, they talked about the economics of it, they talked about how luxury boxes could divide the community feel of Michigan Stadium where every fan is equal to the fan next to him, but the biggest thing was a few were worried about the appearance and the change of a storied landmark in this state," Riger said.
The board didn't overwhelming approve the project, with five voting in favor and three opposed. Majority won out.
"Bill Martin was pretty happy," Riger said. "He seemed confident going in but admitted until it's said and done you can never be too confident."
Michigan won't waste much time moving forward now that it has the Regents' nod. The Regents approved the hiring of Kansas City-based HNTB Architecture to design the project. Over the next few months U-M will work with HNTB to develop schematic designs for the project, which will be brought back to the Board of Regents for approval.
"We are confident from our fan surveys over the years and the experience of peer institutions that most fans will support changes that both renovate and expand the stadium, and help sustain our long-term excellence," Martin said.
Though specifics aren't yet available, preliminary reports indicate capacity at The Big House will go up more than a thousand, breaking the 108,000 threshold.
The plans include building two multi-story structures on both the east and west side of the stadium. The west-side structure will include an elevated concourse, a new press box, club seats and enclosed seating. The east side will include new concessions and restrooms, and additional indoor and outdoor seating. Approximately, 83 suites and 3,200 club seats will be added.