By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 13, 2012
The University’s Athletic Department released the framework for its $250-million long-term plan to renovate athletic facilities throughout South Campus.
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At the Big Ten Conference’s spring meetings, University Athletic Director Dave Brandon said that much of the athletic campus needed improvements. Brandon said the plan would call for $250 million in South Campus-wide renovations to be completed in the next seven to 10 years.
“We’ve really taken our entire campus footprint and said, ‘What do we need to do to get all of our facilities lifted to a point where we really feel we would be competitive with any other campus location for a national tournament,” Brandon told AnnArbor.com. “So, our standard would be to have facilities in every sport that would make us eligible as a site for regional or national competition.”
Though the site was launched this week, the Athletic Department spokesperson David Ablauf declined to comment.
“All that we have to share is what is in the new development site and we won’t be speaking about the project scope, funding or timeline until we are prepared to share the entire plan,” Ablauf said.
The project is expected to be in conjunction with the university-wide capital fundraising campaign.
The Athletic Department, which is financially independent from the University, currently receives 4 percent of its annual income from donations.
The South Campus master plan offers several noticeable changes to the Athletics campus.
Perhaps the most noticeable change is the addition of a ‘Walk of Champions,’ a tree-lined walking path stretching from Schembechler Hall past Oosterbaan Fieldhouse and the Crisler Center and ending at the northeast corner of Michigan Stadium.
The Walk of Champions, the website contends, will create “one complete, contiguous athletic experience that will be as impressive in its scale as it is in its vision.”
The proposal calls for transplanting the Michigan volleyball team from Cliff Keen Arena, where it is currently housed, to a new multi-purpose arena located behind the Ray Fisher Stadium, replacing the Indoor Track Building that is now located there.
New indoor and outdoor track and field facilities, rowing facility and a lacrosse stadium will be erected at the edge of South Campus, joining the wrestling, gymnastics and soccer complex on the southern edge of the U-M Golf Course, according to the plan.
Two aspects of the project — renovations to Yost Ice Arena and Crisler Center — are already underway.
In total, the new Athletic Department website highlights 17 areas of South Campus that will be overhauled within the next decade under the proposed $250-million project.
Though the Athletic Department has not unveiled the full plan, every indication is that Cliff Keen Arena and Ferry Field — where the football team played from 1906-26 — will be no more once the plan is made a reality.
“The Cliff Keen Arena has served us well, but it doesn’t provide individualized resources for our sports that rely on this facility,” the website reads. “Our vision is to transform the space ensuring that our wrestling, volleyball and gymnastics teams will compete in a facility which will make them the envy of our conference, and on par with their national rivals.”
The site includes a map that shows a large parking lot in place of Ferry Field.
Weidenbach Hall, at the corner of Hoover Street and State Street, will serve as the “front door” to South Campus and connect to a renovated and expanded Ross Academic Center.