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Michigan Stadium

Michigan Stadium

Michigan Stadium, nicknamed The Big House, is the football stadium for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. UM Stadium has often been called "The Carnegie Hall of all Sports" and is also known as the House that Yost built. It was built in 1927, at a cost of $950,000 and had an original capacity of 72,000. Prior to playing football at the stadium, the Wolverines played on Ferry Field. Today, Michigan Stadium has an official capacity of 106,201, due to renovations for the 2008 season. The stadium previously had a capacity of 107,501 spectators. The football game attendance often exceeds 111,000 when band members, stadium staff, and others are added. The largest crowd in NCAA college football history was 112,118 on November 22, 2003 for a game against Ohio State.

Currently the stadium lists as the second largest in the United States, behind Penn State's Beaver Stadium, due to a reduction of 1,300 seats because of a lawsuit on behalf of disabled patrons, ruled in March 2008. The former official capacity of 107,501 made The Big House the largest stadium in the United States up until the recent changes. It is the fourth largest stadium in the world, and the 31st largest sports venue in general (which includes auto racing and horse racing tracks, among others). There is one "extra seat" in Michigan Stadium "reserved" by former head coach Fielding Yost for the then athletic director Fritz Crisler, although its location is not specified. Home games are invariably sellouts, and residents of Ann Arbor are aware of "football Saturdays" because of the influx of traffic and business at local establishments. The size of the crowd in the stadium nearly matches the city's population of 114,000.

The Big House performs at least one traditional wave every game although typically one is performed each half. In the second half of most games the student section begins a pattern of non-traditional waves first by going in a counterclockwise direction, then another counterclockwise wave in slow motion, followed by one that that is double the normal wave speed, and finally the student section will then split the wave into to two counter-rotational waves. The non-traditional waves are not performed at every home game.

Michigan Stadium was designed with footings to allow the stadium's capacity to be expanded beyond 100,000. According to the University of Michigan Library's and Athletics Department's history of the stadium, then-athletic director Fielding Yost envisioned a day where 150,000 seats would be needed. To keep construction costs low at the time, the decision was made to build a smaller stadium than Yost envisioned but include the footings for future expansion.

Michigan Stadium is also the site of University of Michigan main graduation ceremonies, though renovations in April 2008 led that year's ceremony to be moved to The Diag.

History

Michigan Stadium's size is not entirely apparent to outside observers, as it is constructed partially below grade, leaving only the upper 20 rows (in most sections) visible from the outside. The stadium's original capacity was 72,000, but Yost made certain to install steel footings that could allow for expansion up to 200,000 seats.It is currently the 2nd largest stadium in the NCAA to Beaver Stadium (Penn St.) Initially, all seating consisted of wood bleachers. These were replaced with permanent metal seating in 1949 by Crisler, who had become athletic director. Longtime radio announcer Bob Ufer dubbed Michigan Stadium "The hole that Yost dug, Crisler paid for, Canham carpeted, and Schembechler fills every cotton-pickin' Saturday afternoon." Since 1975 — Bo Schembechler's seventh season as coach — the stadium has held over 100,000 fans for every home game. (The game against Indiana University on October 25, 1975 was the last sub-100,000 attendance home game for Michigan.) Michigan's game versus Ball State University on November 4, 2006 was the 200th consecutive crowd of over 100,000 fans. Traditionally, when the game's attendance is announced, the public address announcer thanks the fans for "being part of the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America." The tradition was temporarily stopped in 1996, when Michigan Stadium's capacity was overtaken by that of Neyland Stadium, but resumed when it was expanded two years later.

On October 1, 1927, Michigan played Ohio Wesleyan in the first game at Michigan Stadium. It was an instant success, and Michigan prevailed easily, 33-0. The new stadium was then formally dedicated three weeks later in a contest against Ohio State on October 22, 1927. Michigan had spoiled the formal dedication of Ohio Stadium in Columbus just five years earlier, and was victorious again in the contest played for the new dedication, besting the Buckeyes 21-0 before a capacity crowd of 84,401. In the early 1930s the UM installed electronic scoreboards and UM stadium thus became the first stadium in US history to have that technology.

From 1927 to 1968, the stadium's field was covered in natural grass. This was replaced with TartanTurf in 1969 to give players better traction. However, this surface was thought to be unforgiving on players' joints, and the stadium returned to natural turf in 1991. This too became problematic, as the field's below-surface location near the water table made it difficult for grass to permanently take root. The field was converted to FieldTurf, an artificial surface designed to give grass-like playing characteristics, in 2003.

On September 9, 2006, attendees of the Michigan Wolverines vs. Central Michigan Chippewas football game had to endure the first weather delay in the Stadium's history, after a lightning strike occurred shortly after 12:30 EDT in the afternoon. The game was delayed for approximately one hour.

On March 11, 2008, as part of the settlement terms of a lawsuit filed against the university pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the university announced that the official capacity of the stadium would be reduced to 106,201 to accommodate additional wheelchair-accessible seating beginning with the 2009 season.

Renovation plan

On June 21, 2007, the University's Board of Regents approved a $226 million renovation and expansion project for Michigan Stadium which is expected to be completed by 2010. The project includes replacement of some bleachers, widening of individual seats, widening of the aisles and installing hand rails, and the addition of a new press box, 83 luxury boxes, 3,200 club seats, raising its total seating capacity from 107,501 to over 108,000. This renovation plan has garnered much opposition from students, alumni, and fans around the country. A disabled-veterans group filed a federal lawsuit against the university on April 17, because the design of the project did not meet federal standards for wheelchair-accessible seating.

In March 2008, the University reached a settlement to drop the lawsuit in exchange for adding more accessible seating in place of current seating during the course of the renovation. As a result of this change, the capacity of the stadium will decrease to an estimated 106,201 seats for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, placing it second behind Penn State's Beaver Stadium. Following construction completion in 2010, Michigan Stadium will once again become the largest football stadium in America, with a listed attendance of over 108,000.

Records

Michigan Stadium's record crowd of 112,118 saw a victory for Michigan over Ohio State with a score of 35–21. The game was also the 100th anniversary for the Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry game.

In 2004 Michigan set an NCAA record for average attendance at home games, with an average of 111,025 fans.

Michigan Stadium Attendance Records
Rank Attendance Date Game result
1 112,118 Nov. 25, 2003 Michigan 35, Ohio State 21
2 111,726 Sept. 13, 2003 Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0
3 111,609 Oct. 30, 2004 Michigan 45, Michigan State 37 (3OT)
4 111,591 Nov. 19, 2005 Michigan 21, Ohio State 25
5 111,575 Nov. 20, 1999 Michigan 24, Ohio State 17
6 111,571 Nov. 24, 2001 Michigan 20, Ohio State 26
7 111,542 Nov. 2, 2002 Michigan 49, Michigan State 3
8 111,349 Oct. 7, 2006 Michigan 31, Michigan State 13

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