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Updated 9:30 AM September 8, 2009
 

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Stadium tour shows off renovations

Journalists from around southeastern Michigan recently got a look at the bigger Big House as they toured renovations that will add thousands of premium seats and improved accessibility to Michigan Stadium next year.
Joseph Parker, senior associate athletic director, center, describes details of the club seating being added to Michigan Stadium. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

Although the final capacity has yet to be determined, it is expected that the bowl-shaped stadium will seat more than 108,000 people when the project is finished, said Joseph Parker, senior associate athletic director. Current capacity is 107,501.

While more than 4,800 premium seats are being added, some bench seating in the bowl itself will be reduced as seats and aisles are widened after the new construction is completed.

As reporters and photographers stepped around the steel framework of the $226 million project and took in the view from the new seats, university officials described the changes. They will include:

• 82 enclosed suites — 46 on the west side and 36 on the east side. Each will seat 16 people. Six more — up to four standing-room guests and two others who can visit from seats elsewhere during the fourth quarter — can be allowed. The donation for each suite ranges from $55,000 to $85,000 per year, depending on the suite's relationship to midfield, and includes 16 season tickets, Parker said.

• 2,750 outdoor club seats, many of them covered, on the east side of the stadium. Those seats require a donation of between $1,500 and $3,000 per seat, in addition to the cost of a season ticket.

• 250 east-side indoor club seats, which carry a $4,000 donation, plus the cost of a season ticket.

• 700 chairback seats on the site of the current west-side press box. Those seats come with a $2,000 donation, plus the cost of a season ticket.

• 700 chairback seats on the site of the current west-side press box, which will be torn out after this season. Those seats come with a $2,000 donation, plus the cost of a season ticket.
The 15-by-28-foot indoor suites at Michigan Stadium will offer field views similar to this one. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

There also will be dozens of additional men's and women's restrooms along the new, covered concourses, a new press box, and additional concession areas. Plus, there will be new wheelchair-accessible seating at the concourse level.

"The added concourses are going to help out so much with pedestrian gridlock," said Bruce Madej, associate athletic director for communications.

The occupancy rate for the indoor suites currently is at 70 percent, and the club seating occupancy is just less than 70 percent. Parker said that despite the economy he is confident the all the premium seating ultimately will be sold.

Information about the premium seating is available online at www.michiganstadiumproject.com.

Although the stadium work was ongoing last year and will be ongoing through the 2009 football season, Parker said every gate and concourse will be open on game days. Tours of the project will be offered on Fridays and Saturdays of football weekends.

"Last year seemed like more of a rush than this year. More of the activity is above ground now, whereas getting ready for 2009 they were trying to get the concourses reconstituted with asphalt and get all the heavy equipment out of the way," he said.

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