Michigan Stadium
"The Big House"

Michigan Stadium on September 17, 2011
Location 1201 South Main Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-3722
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Broke ground September 12, 1926[1]
Opened October 1, 1927[2]
Renovated 2010
Expanded 1928, 1949, 1955, 1992, 1998, 2010
Owner University of Michigan
Operator University of Michigan
Surface FieldTurf (2003–present)
Natural grass (1991–2002)
Artificial turf (1969–1990)
Natural grass (1927–1968)
Construction cost $950,000
($12 million in 2020 dollars[3])

$226 Million (2010 Stadium Renovation)
Architect Bernard L. Green
HNTB (2010 expansion)
General Contractor James Leck Company[4]
Tenants Michigan Wolverines football (NCAA) (1927–present)
Michigan Wolverines men's lacrosse (NCAA) (2012-present)
Capacity 82,000 (1927)
85,752 (1928–1948)
97,239 (1949–1954)
101,001 (1955–1972)
101,701 (1973–1991)
102,501 (1992–1997)
107,501 (1998–2007)
106,201 (2008–2009)
109,901 (2010–present)

Michigan Stadium, nicknamed "The Big House,"[5] is the football stadium for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan Stadium was built in 1927 at a cost of $950,000 and had an original capacity of 82,000. Prior to the stadium's construction, the Wolverines played football at Ferry Field. Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States with an official capacity of 109,901,[6] but has hosted crowds in excess of 114,000. It is the third largest stadium in the world and the 31st largest sports venue including auto racing and horse racing.[7] The one "extra seat" in Michigan Stadium is said to be reserved for former athletic director Fritz Crisler, although its location is not specified.[8] Every home game since November 8, 1975 has drawn a crowd in excess of 100,000, an active streak of more than 200 contests.[9] On September 10, 2011, 114,804 attended a game at Michigan Stadium between Michigan and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, making this the largest crowd to see a college football game since 1927 and setting an NCAA single-game attendance record.

Michigan Stadium was designed with footings to allow the stadium's capacity to be expanded beyond 100,000. According to the University of Michigan Library's and Athletics Department's history of the stadium, Fielding Yost envisioned a day where 150,000 seats would be needed. To keep construction costs low at the time, the decision was made to build a smaller stadium than Yost envisioned but to include the footings for future expansion.[10]

Michigan Stadium is the site of the University of Michigan's main graduation ceremonies; renovations in April 2008 caused that year's ceremony to be moved to the Diag.[11] It has also hosted hockey games. On December 11, 2010, the "Cold War II", a Michigan versus Michigan State hockey game, took place at Michigan Stadium. The event was officially called "The Big Chill at the Big House", and over 100,000 tickets had been sold by May 6, 2010, when sales to the general public were stopped. The remaining seats were set aside for students. The attendance for the game was 104,073, smashing the previous record for a hockey game by nearly 25,000.


Early HistoryEdit

Prior to playing at Michigan Stadium, Michigan played its games at Ferry Field, which at its peak could seat 40,000 people. Fielding Yost recognized the need for a larger stadium after original expansions to Ferry Field proved to be too small, and persuaded the regents to build a permanent stadium in 1926. Fashioned after the Yale Bowl, the original stadium was built with a capacity of 72,000. However, at Yost's urging, 10,000 temporary bleachers were added at the top of the stadium, increasing capacity to 82,000.[12][9]

File:Michigan Stadium opening 3c27311.png

On October 1, 1927, Michigan played Ohio Wesleyan in the first game at Michigan Stadium, prevailing easily, 33–0. The new stadium was then formally dedicated three weeks later in a contest against Ohio State on October 22. Michigan had spoiled the formal dedication of Ohio Stadium in Columbus five years earlier and was victorious again, besting the Buckeyes 21–0 before a standing-room-only crowd of 84,401. In 1930, electronic scoreboards were installed, making the stadium the first in the United States to use them to keep the official game time.[9]

In 1956, the addition of a press box raised the stadium's official capacity to 101,001. The single extra seat above an even 101,000 was in honor of Fritz Crisler, athletic director at the time. Since then, all official Michigan Stadium capacity figures have ended in "-01".[9]

Before 1968, Michigan had a policy of "No women or children allowed on the field." Sara Krulwich, now a photojournalist for The New York Times, was the first woman on the field.[13] Longtime radio announcer Bob Ufer dubbed Michigan Stadium "The hole that Yost dug, Crisler paid for, Canham carpeted, and Schembechler fills every cotton-pickin' Saturday afternoon."[14] Since November 8, 1975, the stadium has held over 100,000 fans for every home game.[15] The game against Indiana University on October 25, 1975 was the last sub-100,000 attendance home game for Michigan.[15][16] Michigan Stadium's size is not wholly apparent from the outside; most of the seats are located below ground level.

Modern EraEdit

On September 9, 2006, attendees of Michigan's football game against the Central Michigan Chippewas endured the first weather delay in the stadium's history after lightning struck nearby during the first quarter.[17] The game was delayed for approximately one hour. Michigan's game versus Ball State University on November 4, 2006, was the 200th consecutive crowd of over 100,000 fans.[18] Traditionally, when the game's attendance is announced, the public address announcer (historically Howard King) thanks the fans for "being part of the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America today."[19] On September 3, 2011, Michigan and Western Michigan mutually agreed to end their game with 1:27 left in the third quarter because of an ongoing lightning delay. It was the first time Michigan has had a football game called because of lightning. The stadium was evacuated at 6:38 p.m. and the game was called shortly after seven.[20]

2010 renovation and beyondEdit

File:MichStadium Renovation8.jpg

On June 21, 2007, the University's Board of Regents approved a $226 million renovation and expansion project for Michigan Stadium. The project included replacement of some bleachers, widening of aisles and individual seats, installing hand rails, and the addition of a new press box, 83 luxury boxes, and 3,200 club seats. The renovation plan garnered opposition from students, alumni, and fans around the country, which waned as the renovation neared external completion.[21] A disabled-veterans group filed a federal lawsuit against the university on April 17, 2007, alleging that the design of the project did not meet federal standards for wheelchair-accessible seating.[22] On March 11, 2008, as part of the settlement terms of a lawsuit filed against the university pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the university announced that the official capacity of the stadium would be reduced to accommodate additional wheelchair-accessible seating beginning with the 2009 season.[23] The project was completed before the 2010 season.

In August 2011 the University's scoreboard replacement project was finished; the new boards measure 4,000 square feet each with a resolution of 900 x 1632.[24]

Michigan Stadium was rededicated on September 4, 2010, before Michigan's first home football game of the 2010 season against the University of Connecticut,[25] with a listed capacity of 109,901.[6] After the renovation, the stadium lacked permanent lights, although platforms for temporary lights were included in the design. In September 2010, a few days after the rededication, the University of Michigan's Board of Regents approved a plan to add permanent lights, at a cost of $1.8 million. The lights were first used at the men's hockey game on December 11, 2010. The following season saw the stadium's first night football game on September 10, 2011. The Wolverines defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 35–31.[26]

The Michigan lacrosse program was elevated to NCAA varsity status in spring 2011, effective in the 2011-12 academic year.[27] The team will play most of its 2012 games in Michigan Stadium, including a match against Ohio State on April 14, 2012, after the annual Wolverine football spring game.[27]

Seating and surfaceEdit

The stadium's original capacity was 72,000, but Fielding Yost made certain to install footings that could allow for expansion up to 200,000 seats. Initially, all seating consisted of wooden bleachers. These were replaced with permanent metal seating in 1949 by Crisler, who was athletic director at the time. From 1927 to 1968, the stadium's field was covered in natural grass. This was replaced with TartanTurf in 1969 to give players better traction. However, this surface was thought to be unforgiving on players' joints, and the stadium returned to natural turf in 1991. This too became problematic, as the field's below-surface location near the water table made it difficult for grass to permanently take root. The field was converted to FieldTurf, an artificial surface designed to give grass-like playing characteristics, in 2003.[28] In 2010, it was upgraded with a brighter and higher quality version of field turf called Duraspine.[29]

Attendance recordsEdit

On September 10, 2011, Michigan Stadium drew its largest attendance for a football game to date. A crowd of 114,804 saw Michigan defeat Notre Dame, 35–31, setting a post-1948 NCAA collegiate football attendance record. (A 1927 Notre Dame – Southern California game at Soldier Field in Chicago, prior to NCAA record keeping for attendance, drew an estimated 117,000 – 123,000.)[30][31][32] Michigan Stadium also holds the current NCAA single-season average home attendance record, which was set in 2011 at 112,179 fans per game and topped in 2012 at 112,252 fans per game.

With an attendance of 104,173, "The Big Chill at the Big House" set the record attendance for a hockey game.[33] The previous record of 77,803 was set in the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship on May 7, 2010 at Veltins-Arena, a retractable-roof soccer stadium in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.[34]

Highest attendance at Michigan Stadium
Rank Attendance Date Game result
1 114,804 Sept. 10, 2011 Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31
2 114,132 Nov. 26, 2011 Michigan 40, Ohio State 34
3 113,833 Oct. 20, 2012 Michigan 12, Michigan State 10
4 113,718 Nov. 19, 2011 Michigan 45, Nebraska 17
5 113,090 Sept. 4, 2010 Michigan 30, Connecticut 10
6 113,065 Oct. 9, 2010 Michigan 17, Michigan State 34
7 113,016 Nov. 17, 2012 Michigan 42, Iowa 17
8 112,784 Oct. 16, 2010 Michigan 28, Iowa 38
9 112,522 Sept. 8, 2012 Michigan 31, Air Force 25
10 112,510 Nov. 10, 2012 Michigan 38, Northwestern 31



  1. "Workmen Swarm Michigan Stadium". Ludington Daily News. September 13, 1926.,2583518&dq=michigan+stadium+excavation&hl=en. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  2. Madej, Bruce; Toonkel, Rob; Pearson, Mike (November 1, 1997). Michigan: Champions of the West. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 79–. ISBN 978-1-57167-115-8. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  3. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  4. Kryk, John (November 25, 2004). Natural Enemies: Major College Football's Oldest, Fiercest Rivaly—Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Taylor Trade Publications. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-1-58979-090-2. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  5. "'Big Ten Icons' to Count Down Conference's All-Time Top 50 Student-Athletes: Iconic broadcaster Keith Jackson to host the series launching this fall". CBS Interactive. March 4, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Big House Again! Michigan Stadium Capacity Announced at 109,901" (Press release). July 14, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. "Stadium Lists: 100,000+ Stadiums". Retrieved January 11, 2006.
  8. "Facilities: Michigan Stadium". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Stadium History". The University of Michigan. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  10. "Once Again the Biggest House, 1998". Bentley Historical Library. April 15, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  11. Bogater, Jillian (May 28, 2008). "Keynote Woodruff Shares Life Lessons, Hope". The University Record Online (University of Michigan New Service). Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  13. Krulwich, Sara (May 22, 2009). "Essay: "No Women" Was No Barrier". The New York Times ( Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  14. Feldman, Dan (April 20, 2009). "Through Transition, Class of '09 Had Its Ups, But Mostly Downs". The Michigan Daily ( Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "The Michigan Stadium Story: Michigan Stadium Attendance Records". Bentley Historical Library. January 15, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  16. "1975 Football Team". Bentley Historical Library. March 31, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  17. Wharton, Dave (January 1, 2007). "Michigan: The Season". Los Angeles Times ( p. S-12. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  18. "For 200th Straight Game, 100,000 Will Pack Michigan Stadium". Associated Press (CBS College Sports). November 1, 2006. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  19. Rom, Steve; Payne, Rod (2006). Centered By A Miracle. Sports Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-59670-145-8.
  20. "Game called in 3rd quarter: Michigan football team wins, 34-10". September 3, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  21. Monson, Lynn (September 14, 2007). "U-M Professors Urge Reconsideration of Michigan Stadium Expansion". The Ann Arbor News ( Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  22. Kroll, Andy (November 19, 2007). "Despite Lawsuit, Complaints, Stadium Construction Begins". The Michigan Daily ( Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  23. Nelson, Gabe (March 10, 2008). "Michigan Stadium Lawsuit Settled". The Michigan Daily ( Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  24. Scoreboard installation
  25. "Michigan Stadium Rededication". University of Michigan Athletics. September 4, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  26. "Permanent Lights to be Installed at Michigan Stadium" (Press release). University of Michigan Athletics. September 16, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  27. 27.0 27.1 U-M Athletics Announces Men's and Women's Lacrosse as Varsity Sports, Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  28. Nisson, Michael (August 11, 2003). "FieldTurf Receives Praise From Carr". The Michigan Daily ( Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  29. "New Turf Old Turf".
  30. Ford, Liam T. A. (2009). Soldier Field: A Stadium and its City. University of Chicago Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-226-25706-1, 9780226257068.
  31. "Stadium History". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  32. NCAA attendance records. (PDF) . Retrieved on September 26, 2011.
  33. "Highest attendance for an ice hockey match". Guinness World Records. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  34. Adams, Alan (May 7, 2010). "Historic win for Germany". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved July 26, 2010.

External linksEdit

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