Safety and public feedback are among the top concerns expressed by University President Mary Sue Coleman and members of the University Board of Regents about renovations to Michigan Stadium.

In an interview with the Daily, Coleman said one of her top priorities is meeting student demand for season football tickets.

“Students are what provide the great excitement,” she said.

Coleman and some regents also emphasized the importance of safety in the proposed renovations.

“The stadium hasn’t really been updated in a significant way in about 50 years. We want to make (attending games) a better experience for everybody … and we want it to be a safer experience for everybody,” Coleman said. “We have to be good stewards. (The stadium) is a fabulous resource, and if we want to be responsible caretakers, we have to take care of it.”

Regent David Brandon (R-Ann Arbor) echoed Coleman’s concerns about safety.

“I would like to improve the enjoyment, comfort and safety of going to a Michigan football game for every fan, coach and player,” Brandon said.

Coleman and the regents also addressed concerns about funding.

“Whatever the plan is, it would have to be financially feasible. That’s the big question. How are we going to pay for it all? The closed seating is part of the plan to help pay for (the renovations),” Coleman said.

The proposed closed seating — in the form of luxury boxes — would add 5,632 seats, and generate more revenue through higher ticket prices.

Brandon said that the stadium renovations will not be paid for by the University’s general fund.

“The financing of any work on the stadium will not impact the University budget situation in any way,” he said, “Much of the (changes) in the stadium plan will be financed (through) self-funding over time due to the fact they will create revenue streams. The athletic department will pay for the renovations.”

Coleman and the regents said it was important to keep the renovation process open to public input.

“We want to make sure (the new stadium) has the same feel as the Big House. I love the atmosphere of Michigan Stadium. I just think it’s one of the best (stadiums) I’ve ever experienced. We are listening to what people have to say (about renovations),” Coleman said.

Regent S. Martin Taylor also spoke about the importance of keeping the public informed.

“When you’re going to do a major project like this, then it’s critical that you let people in on it as early as is practical,” he said.

“I’m delighted that (the information) is out there now.”

Renovations to the stadium may include more handicapped seating, more restrooms, expansion of general seating and construction of new covered seating sections along both sidelines.

— Daily Staff Reporter Anne Joling contributed to this report

 

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