Last week, I thought the world had practically come to an end.

Brian Merlos
Michigan Stadium will look like this during the 2008 football season, according to a computer rendering. (COURTESY OF THE MICHIGAN ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT)

The University of Michigan put up pictures on MGoBlue.com, and judging by the reaction of the Wolverine faithful, I figured it was the most unbelievably awful thing on the internet not involving two girls, a cup and – well, you get the point.

Fans were disgusted, angered and appalled. Curiosity got the best of me, and I finally had to check it out for myself. I was surprised by what I saw.

Brace yourselves – orange beams!

Oh, the humanity.

These “orange superstructures,” as the university calls them in the press release that accompanied the computer renditions of next year’s Michigan Stadium, have set off an angry contingent of Wolverine Nation hellbent on keeping the Big House pretty much just like Fielding H. Yost envisioned it 80 years ago.

So for all the angry fans looking for a mouthpiece to sound off against the Athletic Department, here I am with a message for you:

Cry me a river. It’s time to give up.

I’m not one to condemn a group fighting for a cause it really believes in. I’ve always said I respect someone who cares deeply about an issue but disagrees with me more than someone who is apathetic. But when it comes to the stadium, it’s time for the anti-renovation mob to just chalk this one up as a loss and move on.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I first learned about the proposed Big House renovations. Growing up, I associated two things with the Michigan football program: the winged helmet and the Big House. Drastically changing one of those was a move I didn’t really see as necessary, especially for financial reasons.

But the more I looked into the situation and thought about it logically, I found myself asking: What is so bad about these changes exactly?

The Big House has never been all that visually appealing to begin with. Its fame is more centered around its huge capacity and the legendary games that take place on the field, not for being a beautiful piece of architecture.

Sure, the luxury boxes and big brick structures will be an adjustment at first, but let’s be honest – it’s actually an improvement from the pit-like feel it has now. Trapping in some of the sound with structures along each sideline will definitely improve Michigan’s relatively tame reputation when it comes to crowd noise, too.

For those who still oppose the project, think about what you’re arguing about. You think a renovated stadium is bad for the program, but if Michigan’s best interest is truly your No. 1 priority, you need to realize a split fan base is anything but good for the program. The decision has been made, and they’re not going to undo the construction. Whining won’t help.

The most important thing for the program is the product that’s going to be on display on the field, not the beams or scaffolding surrounding the stadium. Michigan football is embarking on an exciting new era, one with lots of questions. While entering a season where the program is undergoing its first true transition in 39 years, the focus should be on football, not on aesthetics. Isn’t that how it’s always been?

When I look back on my four years at Michigan, I have a lot of vivid memories. There’s Braylon jumping over multiple Spartan defenders and leading Michigan’s improbable comeback my freshman year. There’s Mario’s last-second catch to crush Joe Paterno and Penn State’s national title aspirations my sophomore year. There’s the undefeated home record during my junior year. Oh yeah, and there was some minor upset this past season that got a little publicity on ESPN.

Whether good or bad, all these memories have one thing in common – they’re memorable because of what occurred on the field, not around it. Had there been some orange beams in the backdrop, I highly doubt these lifelong memories would be tainted.

Over the past four years, I’ve come to realize that change isn’t just inevitable, but it’s often a good thing. Sure, there are exceptions, but it’s more likely to be successful if it’s embraced with open arms.

Whether you like it or not, change is going to be thrown in your face for the next few years. It’s time to either make the best of it or hop off the bandwagon.

– Bell can be reached at scotteb@umich.edu.

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