Michigan sets capacity at 109,901
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan made a lot of changes to the Big House, erecting luxury boxes and club seats in towering structures that loom along both sidelines as part of a $226 million renovation.
It also increased the seating capacity to 109,901 for this season -- up about 2,000 -- to reclaim the distinction from Penn State of having the largest football stadium in the country.
Athletic director Dave Brandon is already envisioning the iconic venue getting even bigger.
"We're already looking at future expansion," he said Wednesday after the media and public got a chance to tour the new-look stadium.
Brandon said the project -- which started a day after the 2007 season ended -- is on budget and on time. He said revenue generated by suites and club seats has already covered costs.
"It's already a financial win," he said.
But the school still has some selling to do before the opener Sept. 4 at home against Connecticut. Twenty of the 81 suites are available and about 80 percent of the 2,952 club seats haven't been sold yet.
Brandon said he's optimistic that giving people a chance to sit in comfy club seats and walk into posh suites -- an opportunity they had for 14 hours Wednesday -- will be great marketing that should boost sales.
Season-ticket holder Ken Close, a 60-year-old resident of Toledo, Ohio, took advantage of the public tour because he doesn't expect to have the money or a friend rich enough to see the premium seats again.
"I think this is great," Close said. "I know some traditionalists didn't want to make these big changes, but I think they're wonderful. We'll make new memories here. You have to grow with the times."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press