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September 11, 1998 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-11

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16A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 11, 1998


The Big House is scheduled o ts doors tomorrow to 107,501 fans after
the completion of nearly $14 enovations, induding 5,500 new ats
ammoth size scoreboards wi san yow o
with1 ha " a
But Michigan Sta T
Jennfer p #Staff Reorter


eforethe completion of the current stadi-
um in 1927, football games were played
in several different venues.
Beginning in 1883, the Wolverines called sev-
eral fields around both the Ann Arbor and Detroit
areas "home turf' --including the area where
Burns Park stands today -according to the 1998
Michigan Media Football Guide.
After a successful football season in 1890, the
University Board of Regents approved $3,000
in funds for the purchase of a new field and per-
manent home for the Wolverines.
The land now occupied by Schembechler Hall
became Regents Field. A covered section of
bleachers with a capacity of 800 was construct-
ed after the first set of bleachers burned down
in 1895. But crowds of nearly 5,000 spectators
were not uncommon at games and temporary
seats were often erected.
In 1902, Detroit native Dexter Ferry donated
21 acres of land bordering State Street and the
local railroad tracks. The area was renamed
Ferry Field and plans near the area where the
Michigan Track now sits were approved for a
new stadium.
Ferry Field was built to hold 18,000 fans, but
was expanded to seat 40,000. Fans paid just $1
to see a home game.
The gates open
During the 1920s large stadiums were opened
by Vanderbilt University, Ohio State
University, Michigan State University,
University of Illinois, University of Minnesota,
Northwestern University and Purdue
For $240,000 in 1925, the University pur-
chased the land where Michigan Stadium now
stands. The stadium was completed in 1927
with costs totaling $950,000. When it opened,
the new Ferry Field could seat 84,401 specta-
tors with the addition of wooden bleachers.
In 1930, Michigan Stadium became the first
stadium to use electronic scoreboards. The
newly renovated Big House now boasts the two
largest video screens installed at any university.
Dental School alumnus, Jack Bates, from the
class of 1941, attended Michigan games at the
stadium throughout the 1930s.
"My first recollection of that mighty stadi-
um was in the early '30s when I helped with
the ushering as a Boy Scout," Bates said. "Two
things I recall then were that the stadium was
so huge, and how cold I got in my Boy Scout
uniform on those chilly fall days."
Bates said he later attended games as a stu-
dent with his fraternity brothers and remembers
how, similar to today, too many students were

crammed into a small area.
"We tried to get tickets as a group and some-
times were disgusted at some of the 'brothers'
bringing their girlfriends who had to be
squeezed into our area in an already packed
space," Bates said. "We usually were able to get
seats in the card sections as those were apt to
be better than those allotted to the other stu-
While students last year got to watch a per-
fect season of Michigan football games, stu-
dents attending games in the 1930s had a fairly
different experience.
Wayne Stewart, a '41 Medical School alum-
nus who transferred to the University in 1934
from Dartmouth College, when the stadium
seated 84,753 fans, said the games weren't
always so uplifting.
"The football team then was truly inept and
seldom won a game," Stewart said in a written
statement. "The crowning blow came when
Michigan was defeated at home by Princeton,
coached then by Fritz Crisler."
Crisler changed sides soon after to coach at
Michigan and led the Wolverines to the Rose
Bowl and the National Championship in 1948.
Renovations in 1956, created a tradition of
adding one extra seat to the stadium's capacity
in honor of Crisler, the athletic director at the
During the days when 1940 Heisman Trophy
winner Tom Harmon ran the opponents ragged,
tickets were free to students, Stewart said. Other
spectators payed $2 for entrance to the stadium.
Donald Ghareeb, a '52 alumnus, said he
decided to attend the University after his first
experience at the stadium.
Ghareeb said he had been a junior in high
school when he first visited the campus, on a
trip to compete in the finals of an original ora-
tory competition.
Ghareeb visited many of the University
landmarks and also received complimentary
tickets to a football game that weekend.
"I can still remember walking toward the
stadium. Keep in mind, there was nowhere
near the development in that area as there is
now," Ghareeb said. "It seemed as if the stadi-
um was situated on a small knoll and was not
all that large, but when I completed my walk
through the arched entrance and saw the
immensity of the stadium, I was in breathless
state of shock."
Ghareeb said he had been given an annual
stipend to attend New York University and all
his high school classmates were opting to attend
Michigan State College, which was not yet a
But Ghareeb said attending one Michigan

football game made the decision easy.
"It was at that moment, my mind was made
up... it was the University of Michigan for me,"
Ghareeb said.
in the world
President John F. Kennedy's assassination
riveted the world, sending shock waves all the
way to Michigan Stadium.
At 9:30 a.m, on the Saturday following the
shooting, the University issued a statement that
read "in solemn recogni-
tion of the great national
tragedy today's game " We paint
between the University
of Michigan and Ohio navy blue
State University will not
be played." fence yelI
University Alumnus
Alan Cline, who almostgM
received his Phd in
1970, attended football
games as a undergradu- Former M
ate in in the mid '60s.
"I was in (Mary)
Markley (Residence Hall) and we would have
lunch and walk to the stadium," Cline said.
Students could purchase season tickets for
less than $20, Cline said.
"It was pretty hang loose about where you
actually sat," Cline said.
Students could get an additional discount on
their tickets if they chose to sit in a card section
in the endzone, Cline said. "Card sections were
big deals in college football games for a long
In the card sections, students would hold up
large pieces of board painted to form University
mottos, cheers or large block 'M's.
The ratio of male to female students was
fairly even in the stands, Cline said, although
the University prohibited females on the field
unless they were representing the visiting
"They let the other teams cheerleaders on
the field even if they were girls," Cline said,
adding that many cheerful comments were
made by male students about the "girls in
short skirts."
The remaining student spectators were more
likely to wear "whatever kept you warm or
whatever you wore to class," Cline said.
Through the years
The University installed carpet-like Titan
Turf into the stadium at a cost of $250,000 in
Players cleats would be visible on top of the
artificial material rather than sinking in, as they
did in grass.
"I remember seeing pictures of it and it
always seemed weird to me," Cline said.
Don Canham, who served as the University's
athletic director from 1968 to 1988, oversaw
many changes to Michigan Stadium, including
the addition of artificial turf.
"We renovated it tremendously," Canham
said. "Sometimes people didn't like it and
sometimes they did."
Under Canham, the stadium was landscaped
and color was added around the rim and fence.
Canham said when he began his post, the sta-
dium "was painted grey, the same way it had
been since 1927."
"We painted the halo navy blue - Michigan

blue - and the fence yellow. We almost got
fired," he said.
Canham said he received many letters criti-
cizing the painting on the fence.
"They complained about the yellow fence
being to garish," Canham said. "If there's a
radical change you're going to get criticism."
The stadium is an important part of
Michigan athletics, Canham said, not only for
the students and alumni but also in attaining
championship teams.
"Anybody in athletics realizes that facilities
come first," Canham said. "It has a tremen-

ed the halo
on We
- Don Canham
chigan Athletic Director

dous affect on recruit-
ing - a recruit wants
to play in the biggest
stadium in the coun-
try. They get caught
up in the drama of a
great facility."
Canham said he sup-
ported the recent addi-
tions to the stadium
and felt they were nec-
"Renovation is criti-
cal to the success of a

stadium," Canham said.
Rhythm and spirit
No mention of the stadium would be com-
plete with the sounds and spirit of the Michigan
Marching Band.
Experiencing football Saturdays from the
band section is "somewhere between the game
and the fans," said Engineering sophomore
Austin Moore.
Many band members said their favorite part
of playing in home games is rushing through
the east tunnel and onto the stadium field.
"Being a member of the Michigan Marching
Band, the biggest rush anyone can have is run-
ning out of the east tunnel and folding out into
the block 'M,"' said Moore, who plays the
"It's just a really good feeling."
Mark Pellerito, who plays the clarinet in the
band, said the feeling he experiences running
onto the field in front of more than 100,000
screaming fans is overwhelming.
"You don't hear any noise because you're
deep within the tunnel. Then all of a sudden
there (is) this critical point where you hit this
wave of sound and you're just awestruck,"
said Pellerito, an Engineering senior. "You see
rows and rows of people and you keep expect-
ing to see the sky but you don't, and then the
sun shines down on you."
The band practices on the field before the first
home game of the season each year.
Pellerito said he cannot tell that the stadium
is larger since the addition consisted of just a
fraction of seats in an already enormous stadi-
"We did a stadium practice and it does not
seem that much larger," Moore said.
The addition of video screens into the stadi-
um shouldn't affect the marching band's perfor-
mance greatly because many members are
already use to camera crews walking through
their formations.
"The band is quite used to cameras all over
the place," Pellerito said. "It's kind of neat to
be marching down the field and see band
members on the screens."
- Daily Staff Reporter Susan T. Port
contributed to this report.




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