If the University Board of Regents approves the Athletic Department’s new stadium plans, the Big House could become the Brick House.
The Athletic Department released schematic designs yesterday for its divisive renovations to Michigan Stadium.
The drawings show club seats, suites and a new press box built into brick facades on the east and west sides of the stadium.
The brick structures would rise 85 feet above the ground outside the stadium, 10 feet higher than the scoreboards on both sides of the field.
The $226-million renovation plan also includes a number of amenities for fans, like more bathrooms and concession stands, wider bleacher seats, handrails in the aisles and handicapped-accessible seating.
To make room for these changes, a few thousand bleacher seats would be eliminated. The addition of 3,200 club seats and 83 suites above the seating bowl would make up the difference and keep the total number of seats at or above the current 107,501.
University Athletic Director Bill Martin said the plans will soon be presented to the regents for approval.
“It will be this fall for sure,” Martin said.
But Martin said it won’t be discussed at today’s regents meeting in Flint. The Athletic Department hopes to put the proposal on the agenda for next month.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the Athletic Department originally planned to show the schematics to the public on Monday, but released them yesterday instead when the design was leaked to members of the public.
Yesterday morning, The Michigan Daily obtained information about the design from Save the Big House, a group that opposes the construction of luxury suites and club seating in Michigan Stadium.
Bill Wilson, a member of the group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request after he heard the regents had seen preliminary designs for the renovation behind closed doors. He asked for all documents pertaining to stadium renovations that had been presented to the regents.
When the deadline for the University to comply with the FOIA request passed, Wilson still hadn’t received anything. He flew to Ann Arbor from his home in Maine to threaten the University with a lawsuit.
“I have to get on a plane, come here, and tell them that I’m going to file a (lawsuit) before they’ll give me anything,” Wilson said.
The University gave Wilson the schematics shown to the regents at a closed meeting in September.
Martin said the plans Wilson saw were practically identical to the ones released yesterday.
In order to guarantee that everyone learned about the design proposal at the same time, the University released the updated version of the schematics to the public early, Peterson said.
She declined to say whether Wilson’s FOIA request factored into the University’s decision to unveil the plans early.
The schematics have been in the works since the regents approved the renovation project in May.
Over the summer, the Athletic Department brought in Boston-based Kallmann McKinnell & Wood to serve as design consultants to primary architects HNTB Architecture.
After looking at Yost Ice Arena and the Intramural Building – both historic brick buildings on the athletic campus – Kallmann McKinnell & Wood suggested the architects think brick.
The architects thought it would give the athletic campus a more unified, stately appearance, Martin said.
“Many, many of the e-mails we received when we asked for input on our website said ‘You’ve gotta make it brick,’ ” Martin said. “Brick is a common, long-lasting, traditional material. Michigan Stadium is iconic to us all, so we had to use iconic materials.”