Certain members of the Ann Arbor City Council hope to see the new digital billboard at Michigan Stadium shut off – at least partially.
Monday night, Councilmember Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) announced he, Margie Teall (D–Ward 4) and Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) will bring forward a request to discontinue the East Stadium Drive digital billboard at the next council meeting on Nov. 7.
In June, City Council passed an amendment to the existing outdoor advertising ordinance that prohibits the introduction of digital billboards into the city or the transformation of old billboards into digital ones.
Taylor said he and the other supporters are going to suggest that the University discontinue use of the billboard off East Stadium Boulevard because it can be distracting to drivers.
“We are going to request they … either decommission the billboard, or, if they decline to do that, to limit its usage to events at Crisler Center or Michigan Stadium,” he said.
Though Taylor noted he is aware of the University’s “appropriate” autonomy from the city, he still hopes they will at least understand the issue at hand.
“In my view, complying with this request does not undermine their autonomy and would be a neighborly act,” Taylor said.
Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) echoed Taylor’s concerns for the safety of residents who may be distracted by the board while driving but said she disagrees with Taylor in the hours the board should be turned off.
“It’s most distracting at the times when there’s the most traffic in the area, both pedestrian and vehicular, and that’s just before games,” Briere said. “Some members of council were thinking in terms of allowing it to be lit just before games. I don’t have a strong view of how distracting it is on a regular basis, but I can tell you when I’ve driven by it, it’s distracting.”
Jim Kosteva, the University’s director of community relations, said in a statement that while the University respects the council members’ opinions, it maintains that the sign doesn’t pose a safety threat.
“This may simply be a matter of the city and University disagreeing about the marquee’s use, size and effect,” Kosteva said in the statement. “We believe the marquee can safely inform patrons about events that they or their families might enjoy that wouldn’t receive attention otherwise.”