Big House, Big Noise

Tonight, between 3:30 and 7:00 PM, the University will perform a sound test in Michigan Stadium to determine how the addition of massive structures along either sideline will affect the venue’s acoustics. The purpose of the 140db “cannon shot” isn’t to measure the added volume from crowd noise fto the players on the field (it’s it’s to plan speaker placement for the PA system), but it certainly can provide some information, however obliquely related.

To the crowd-noise-obsessed Michigan fan, this calls to mind the Oversized Metallic Dandelion from last year’s Minnesota game. Associate Architecture Professor Mojtava Navvab was attempting to determine the difference in crowd noise that adding boxes would cause. The results were something along the lines of “2-4 times as loud,” and though I’m sleptical on that degree of difference, 1) I do not have a graduate degree in architecture, and 2) Even without glass last year, the difference in sound was noticeable.

Of course, the Athletic Department is not actively trying to increase crowd noise with the boxes (at least not as their primary goal), so they likely won’t pursue ways in which crowd noise in particular will increase with the added structures. However, if they wanted to really impact the noise on the field, the most effective way to do so would be encouraging fans to make more noise in the first place.

I’m not a fan of my college football events being Minor League Hockey, as Brian would say (translation: RAWK MUSIC, hokey pump up videos, etc.), but there are ways that the AD could promote a louder environment without delving into the corny. Other schools in the Big Ten take this a bit too far, Sparty, Ohio State, and Penn State among them – though I think it’s no coincidence that the latter two have the best homefield advantages in the conference, but there is a happy medium. Pump up videos are unnecessary, but the banner-shaped video board along the bottom of the scoreboards can be used for evil (a word which here means “good”). Step 1) Stop encouraging the GD3DKPT, also known as “God Damn Third Down Key Play Thingy.”  Step 2) Change the message on the board, not only during third down, but all defensive downs, to something simple like “Make some NOISE!”

I’ll wrap this post up before it gets off on too much of a tangent (that i’ve covered several times before), but, uh yeah. Sound test in the Big House tonight, huh?1

Posted under Football

Basketball Practice Facility Is En Route to Existence

Proposed location of BB practice facilityBill Martin brought a request for permission to get going on a practice facility for the basketball teams. For a mere $23.2 million, the AD wants to put in two practice courts, private locker rooms, sports medicine areas, strength and conditioning areas and offices. The plan calls for it to be built on the East side of Crisler and will remove 150 parking spots temporarily and 60 permanently.  This is prime tailgating area, so those people will still get spots, just somewhere else.

The Athletic Department will now get a design and come back to the Regents for approval.  We’re not very far into this project, but it is exciting that it’s getting going.

This is obviously a good thing for both basketball programs as it should help with recruiting and ease the scheduling conflicts of having 3 sports using Crisler.  It also signals that the Athletic Department will likely renovate Crisler as opposed to creating a new facility.  Crisler has sort of grown on me since they put in modern lights.

The document is very vanilla and doesn’t have very many memorable quotes, but there is one part that is kind of interesting:

The proposed addition will temporarily displace approximately 150 parking spaces during construction and will permanently displace approximately 60 spaces upon completion. This loss will be accommodated as part of the strategic parking and transportation plan for South Campus.

Emphasis mine. I’m not exactly sure what is involved, but I hope it involves an offensive into North Campus. Take that BFE!

Posted under Basketball

Comments Off on Basketball Practice Facility Is En Route to Existence


Spring is almost upon us

Rich Rodriguez announced last week that Michigan’s Spring Game will be returning to Michigan Stadium. This year’s intrasquad, to be played April 11th, will once again be open to the public. This is obviously a major step forward for the program, after last year’s final practice was closed, and held at nearby Saline High School.

Now that things are on the right path, I humbly offer a few suggestions to the athletic department the ensure this year’s game is a success.

  • Have a real game with normal scoring. None of this “offense v. defense, a sack is 2 points for the defense, a first down is worth half a point…”-type nonsense. A spring game is for the fans, and so let’s not make it confusing to follow. Figure out a way to get it done (I suggest first teams v. second teams, but there are a number of other ways to get this done).
  • If there are going to be activities other than a game, make them interesting. Florida has the players race each other (and students who want to try their hand at beating the likes of Percy Harvin). Michigan has players run through drills that fans don’t get. Which do you think is more interesting to observers?
  • Invite every high school coach in the state, and most from Ohio. Encourage them to bring their teams. Invite every single prospect that has been identified for the classes of 2010 and 2011. I don’t care if they’re from Florida, Hawaii, or Timbuktu. If they want to come, they will. If it’s too far, they won’t. What does it hurt to extend an invitation? Since there’s guaranteed to be less media covering the spring game (regardless of who is invited), allow the recruits to stay on the sidelines during the scrimmage – something they cant do during an actual game.
  • Have a festival-like atmosphere, or at least treat it like a game. Have tailgating, the Victors Walk, contests, concessions. Have the whole band and the whole cheerleading squad in attendance. Bring in forme (or current) NFL players to call plays. Invite College Gameday to Ann Arbor (they were in Gainesville last year) – or at least whatever BTN’s version of GameDay is. Invite all the media that cover the team during the regular season – go out of your way to make sure they know they are welcome.
  • If it’s cold, have a pep rally in Crisler before the game. If not, hold it in the stadium. Have Coach Rod speak to the crowd.
  • Give tours of parts of Michigan Stadium fans have never seen. Considering all the construction, that could just be whatever has been completed since November 15th. Let them in the locker room, or Junge (unless it’s being used for recruiting) or the press box.

As for fans? Well, they just need to show up, have fun (regardless of the weather), and maybe have a tailgate or two. If there’s one thing fans can do to help the team for next season, it’s showing they still care about and love the Michigan Wolverines, and maybe build a little confidence for the players and coaches going into ’09.

What ideas do YOU have to improve the spring game? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll post a roundup/revision post as spring practice begins. Maybe the best suggestion will get a prize… Anybody interested in a DVD set? There’s a copy of The Rivalry Series: Michigan Beats Ohio State up for grabs.

Posted under Football, Recruiting, Spring Coverage

A Couple Things

Michigan team preview starts tomorrow. while you wait, peruse these links:

  • In case you live under a rock, MGoBlue is going to have a new video up each day until kickoff. See the archive here.
  • Hoover Street Rag fills us in on the selections for MMB halftime shows this year. If the Team America song is not included in the “America Rocks” show, I will be sorely disappointed.
  • FoxSports has published their “Toughest Places to Play” list. Michigan Stadium ranks #10. I still maintain that there should be two separate lists for home team winning percentage and for fan rabidity during games. (TFJ: Big House Blog).

Posted under Misc.

Comments Off on A Couple Things

Tags: , ,

Anyone Have a Couple Million Lying Around?

A friend of mine e-mailed me the brochure that the Athletic Department put together to explain the stadium renovation and “enhanced giving opportunities” to the University that are resulting from the construction. I hadn’t seen this before, so I thought I’d throw out some high lights.

You can click on any image for a higher resolution version.This is probably my favorite page, simply because of the ludicrous amounts of money they’re asking for and how I can’t believe they won’t get it all. The naming rights on this page (except for the Stadium Door Reception Wall) total up to $38.5M, almost 20% of the total construction budget.

These are the club seats that will be under the suites on the Crisler side of the stadium. I wonder how much more the necessary annual contribution is for these than say the 50 yard line row 20. Anyway, if we say the seats average about $2,500 and there are 3,000 of them, that means at least $7.5M per year in gifts in addition to the cost of season tickets. This comes on top of keeping the premium seats in the bowl as well if the rich people want to be with the unwashed masses.
These aren’t super exciting, and I can’t really get a number, but the rendering is pretty cool…

And now the big money makers:
There are 83 available suites (46 on the West side, 37 on the East Side). They come with free parking and “premium food and beverage service.” How premium?

Q13. Will beverage alcohol be available for premium seating patrons?
No. Michigan Stadium, including all premium seating areas, will be an alcohol free environment.

Not premium enough. So continuing with our math, lets assume the suites average $70,000 per year. That totals about $5.8M a year, and that doesn’t even count the gifts one would have to make to the Athletic department in order to get to the point in line to buy a suite.

So let’s recap:

Area Revenue Additional Revenue
Capital Gifts $38,500,000 Stadium Donor Recognition Wall
East Side Club Seats $7,500,000/year Season Tickets Cost
West Side Chairback Seats $1,300,000/year Season Tickets Cost
Suites $5,810,000/year Gifts required to get a chance
Total $53,110,000 $14,610,000/year

Not too shabby. Assuming an overly simplistic model where all the prices stay the same and no interest has to be paid on the $226M construction costs, just the money from the premium seating could and capital gifts could pay back the costs in 13 years.

Posted under Blog News

Comments Off on Anyone Have a Couple Million Lying Around?

Tags: , , , ,

Rocking the Spring Sports

Most Michigan fans follow football in the fall and ice hockey (if you like watching a good team) or basketball (if you’re a masochist) in the winter. Many spring sports don’t seem to get the same attention that the other seasons do. It could be because there’s no revenue sport or, more likely, a large part of their seasons are played after students leave campus for the summer.

Well, I’ve been in Ann Arbor the past two summers and have noticed that the spring sports have been ridiculously good the past two years. Women’s track and field finished with a share of the Big Ten title last year and was runner up this year. The male runners won the title outright this year.

This year, women’s tennis made it to the second round NCAA tournament, while the men made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Both teams improved upon somewhat breakout seasons the year before.

Then there is baseball and softball. Both teams last year made it to the super regionals and gave the teams they played hell. I remember watching baseball’s first game against Oregon State in the Super Regional. Zach Putnam pitched a ridiculously good game. He only gave up one hit, but unfortunately that one hit brought in a run which was enough to earn Putnam the loss. It was one of the best baseball games I had seen.

As well as those teams did last year, the prospects are looking even better this year. One of the biggest reasons is the new Wilpon Baseball and Softball Palace Complex. Last year both teams played on the road in the Super Regional round. Michigan did not even put in a bid for either sport as the stands and press boxes were torn apart for the new construction. This year is different. Now Michigan has one of the nicer facilities, especially in the Midwest. Softball hosted and won its regional and will hope to do the same when it hopes the Super Regional this weekend. Baseball also has a very good chance of hosting it’s Super Regional series if it made it out of the regional round.

The new Ray Fisher Stadium will be getting it’s first test of a large baseball event when it hosts the Big Ten Tournament this weekend. In an e-mail from the media contact for baseball he said “With the new Press Box there is ample room, but I need to know who is coming so I can have Press Credentials waiting in your name.” which is a drastic change from last year when the media room was a tent behind Yost.

If you are in the area, check out baseball and softball this weekend. The schedule for the Big Ten tournament isn’t posted yet, but softball is set to play Virginia Tech at Noon this Saturday. Even if you’re not in town, you can catch the softball team on ESPN and I assume BTN will cover the tournament.

It could be a special year for both of these teams. They deserve all the support they can get.

UPDATE: Details about ticket prices and availability for baseball are here. Similar details for the softball super regional tickets are here. Take-home points: Baseball is $7 per game. Softball is $5 for general admission bleachers or $7-$8 for the nice, new grandstand.

Posted under Baseball

The Old Barn: Sources Consulted

Da compleet seriez: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. Substantive hockey update coming before tonight’s game.


Yost Ice Arena is Michigan’s hockey hot spot

A Historical Tour of the University of Michigan Campus

Yost Ice Arena

Fifty Years of Cameron Indoor Stadium


Brian Schick: Yost still boasts the best fans on campus

Yost’s “’improvements’ aren’t worth it for fans

In print:

Canham, Donald B. From the Inside: A Half Century of Michigan Athletics. Ann Arbor: Olympia Sports Press, 1996.

Hilton, John. “Don Canham’s Empire.” Ann Arbor Observer Sept. 1983: 67-77.

Bacon, John U. Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey. Ann Arbor: Olympia Sports Press, 2001.

Bacon, John U. “Fielding Yost.” A Legacy of Champions: The Story of the Men Who Built University of Michigan Football. By Joe Falls, et al. Ann Arbor: F. Svedbeck Publishing, 1996. 14-73.

Posted under Analysis, Hockey

Comments Off on The Old Barn: Sources Consulted

Tags: , ,

The Old Barn: Part 5

Many buildings in college athletics are better known than Yost Ice Arena. Cameron Indoor Stadium, the L.A. Coliseum, and even The Big House on Michigan’s own campus have garnered far more attention than has Yost Ice Arena. So what makes Yost more important to the history of college athletics than any of these places? First, unlike the L.A. Coliseum, it was built by the University, and has been owned by Michigan in the entire duration of its existence. Unlike Cameron Indoor Stadium, which has been the home only to Duke’s basketball team, Yost has housed nearly every sport at Michigan in some capacity. Finally, the longevity of Yost is the key factor that makes it perhaps the most important building in college athletic history. Being the first field house makes Yost a groundbreaking development in college football history. According to Kip Taylor, “People figured, he’s off his rocker… But everyone in the country has a Yost Field House now”. The house that Yost built was the first, and it can be copied, but never replicated. And even though its purpose has been radically changed, it is known as one of the best college hockey facilities today. Yost Ice Arena is more important than any other building in college athletics history.

The Old Barn at 1000 South State Street looks unimposing from the outside. The casual observer would have no idea that it is the home of college hockey’s most successful program, with an NCAA record 9 national titles. However, step inside the doors during a Michigan hockey game, and it is like walking into a different world. “As sophomore defenseman Chris Summers insists, it’s difficult to describe all that goes on during Michigan games, with spontaneous ribbing and insulting of opponents, off-color chants, pep band contributions and the energy of the building. ‘But once you have been here for five minutes of a game, you understand,’ he says.” Even at Michigan, where football will always reign supreme, Yost stands out as “the greatest place to watch a Michigan sporting event on campus.” Whether in 1923, when it was built, or today, Yost is one of the best and most important buildings in college athletics.

Posted under Hockey

Comments Off on The Old Barn: Part 5

Tags: ,

The Old Barn: Part 4

Basketball moved to Crisler Arena in 1967, leaving behind The Old Barn for The House that Cazzie Built. Yost Field House lost its biggest draw, and for the next six years, it would not replace hoops with a major sport. That all changed in 1973, when the Michigan hockey team moved from Weinberg Coliseum to their new home at Yost ice arena. The reason wasn’t necessarily that Yost was such a good venue, but rather that The Coliseum had fallen behind the times: “The arena was horrible,” said Don Canham. When Don Lund suggested moving the hockey team to Yost, Canham was willing to do what he needed to. Of course, Yost was a building designed for many sports to be played in it, and hockey wasn’t one of them. However, Athletic Canham was able to renovate the Old Barn to make it suitable for the hockey team to move in. For $400,000, Yost changed from an all-purpose field house to an ice arena fit for one of the premier teams in the WCHA. Of course, Canham’s decision was a wise one, like most he made in his tenure, turning Michigan’s Athletic Department from a sinkhole for money into one of the most profitable in the nation.

Today, Yost Ice Arena looks very different from the way it did when it was built as Yost Field house in 1923. Though the exterior is basically unchanged, there are a few key differences. Ice permanently covers the playing surface of the building, and the seating arrangements have been adjusted several times over the years. In 1996, Yost underwent a major renovation, in which press facilities were upgraded, seating was added on the north end of the ice, and a new home locker room was constructed. Because of this renovation, seating was decreased substantially. Just 5 years later, the arena was again changed. Balcony box seating and a club lounge were added on the east side. These improvements to Yost Ice Arena were intended to improve the hockey experience for spectators and players. The Michigan Daily, however, was no so fond of either renovation.

Posted under Hockey

Comments Off on The Old Barn: Part 4

Tags: ,

The Old Barn: Part 3

When Yost was still being used as a field house, it was the home to several Michigan sports. In fact, every Michigan sport except for swimming has used Yost in some capacity. Competitions for track and field, basketball, and several other sports have taken place in Yost. Additionally, it has been used as a practice facility for several sports. From its very start, Yost field house was used as a practice facility for Michigan football. Michigan baseball also used the field house as its practice facility. Locker rooms and showers for all sports were one of the many features included in the original design. Yost also housed the equipment room for all sports, under the direction of managers Henry Hatch and Jon Falk. Don Canham so associated them with the Arena that he said “I still think of [Hatch] when I go into Yost Arena. Yost has served a variety of purposes in Michigan athletics over the duration of its existence, giving it more importance than those buildings which have served a singular purpose.

Posted under Hockey

Comments Off on The Old Barn: Part 3

Tags: ,