The past few years have seen many renovations for the UM athletic facilities. The Big House added a huge overlooking press box and hundreds of suites. A new soccer stadium was built to provide a boost for the up and coming soccer program. The baseball program was given a renovation of Wilson Stadium.
These renovations are key to giving Michigan the competitive edge in athletics, especially for attracting recruits. The previous athletic director Bill Martin pushed many of these projects through under his guidance. Dave Brandon, the new athletic director, came into the athletic department with the same mindset. With Brandon’s help, Crisler, Yost, and The Big House are all receiving renovations.
The UM Athletic department is entirely self-sufficient from the university, running off of donations and revenues. The AD is paying the entire cost of these renovations, not taking a dime from students’ tuition.
Crisler Arena, the basketball arena, is going under the most costly renovation of all, totaling $98 million. This involves a Player Development Center, Phase I renovation, and Phase II renovations.
The new Player Development center was approved in September 2009 under Martin. It cost $23.2 million and will be open this October. It includes new practice courts, film-viewing theatres, and strength and conditioning spaces. For the coaches there will be new administrative offices. According to MGoBlue, Coach Belien said of this project: ”I love the fact that our student-athletes will benefit from having the opportunity to train and prepare, using the latest technology, in a state-of-the-art, world-class facility. “ Previously the basketball team only had the practice space in Crisler and outdated technology. In addition the coaches were doing their worked in cramped spaces. The new facility will be 57,000 square feet and over two stories tall.
Phase I was approved in January of 2010 under Martin as well. This project cost $23.2 million as well and was just completed this past summer. The project included much needed electrical, plumbing, air, and roof repairs. The seats in the lower bowl were also replaced, with the additions of railings and disabled seating up to code. Crisler has not seen infrastructure work in 40 years. The new renovations have received much acclaim from the players and staff.
“It looks brand new like it was just built. The scoreboard and the floor look great. It’s incredible. It’s going to be great to see all of our fans in there and get a chance to play,” Jordan Morgan, Michigan basketball Forward, said of the new look, according to MGoBlue.
“It’s revolutionary to see Crisler back in the 1960s when it was built compared to the extreme makeover that is presented now. It makes you somewhat speechless,” Assistant Coach Bacari Alexander told MGoBlue, “You have to thank the thousands upon thousands of athletic donors and supporters of Michigan athletics to make something like this happen. Our alums, our fans and our players alike have a high level of appreciations for a project like this because it gives them something they can be proud of.”
Phase II was approved this past January, costing $52 million. It includes new seating for disabled, expanded concourses, more concessions, and new stadium entrances for better fan traffic.
Yost Arena, the hockey arena, received approval for renovations this past June, costing $14 million. The new additions include a replacement of the bleacher seats and increased disabled seating. Premiums seats will also be added in addition to a new press box on the west side of the arena. The concourse will add more concessions. The outside windows of Yost will be replaced as well. All of this is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2012-2013 season.
Crisler, Yost and The Big House have all have replaced their old scoreboards with new LED screens. The new replacement in the Big House measures to be 47’x85’, 40% bigger than the previous screen. The Crisler replacement will have 14 different LED displays including four 12’ x 16.6’ screens. Yost will get a fixture with nine LED screens including four 13’ x 16.8’.
All of the renovations happening will give Michigan fans a great experience and help give them a good product on the court, field, and ice. It is all happening because of a continued dedication for the Dave Brandon and the Athletic Department to keep Michigan at the top of the pack in regard to athletic facilities, top teams, and great fan atmospheres.