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Michigan Stadium adding luxury boxes, seats

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.