Michigan Stadium adding luxury boxes, seats

Updated: May 23, 2006, 7:53 PM ET
Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Michigan Stadium will get luxury boxes and more seats as part of an estimated $226 million renovation to the American sports icon.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted 5-3 in favor of the plan, which would increase the stadium's capacity by about 750 to 108,251. The final design and construction contracts still require board approval.

"You've got some major challenges at the Big House," Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said. "We initiated a process to address those challenges to come up with a financial model that would pay for it without putting a burden on the backs of all of our fans in the seats.

"What you saw today was a major step forward; it's a step that is really a beginning and not an end at all."

The target for completion of work on the home of the Wolverines is 2010. About 83 indoor suites and 3,200 outdoor club seats will be added, the university said, while widening seats and aisles will cut seats in some parts of the stadium.

The project will feature building structures -- six and eight stories tall -- on the east and west sides of the stadium and include bench seats, new media facilities, restrooms, concessions areas and an additional concourse.

Details of the plan first were reported Friday by The Ann Arbor News, which obtained details through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Michigan Stadium was built in 1927 at a cost of $950,000. Expanded several times over the years, it is one of the largest football stadiums in the country with a seating capacity of 107,501.

The athletics department proposed that Michigan build private suites like those that many colleges have added in recent years. But the plan had drawn some opposition from Michigan football fans.

On Friday, the board approved the project's budget the hiring of HNTB Architecture to design the project.

In about six months, Martin is expected to seek approval for a design for the project. A year from now the board will be asked to approve a more detailed design and award a construction bid.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press