Michigan's football Stadium was completed in the fall of 1927 and forms one of the most satisfactory and practical football fields in existence. Its designation is in reality a misnomer since it is of the amphitheater or bowl type of construction, rising only slightly above the ground level on the east side.
The site of the structure was decided upon in the spring of 1926, and plans for construction were made during the following summer. Increased interest in the record of Michigan's football team, resulting at almost every game in an attendance much larger than the old stands on Ferry Field were able to accommodate, eventually led the Board in Control of Athletics to consider expansion of the University's athletic facilities. As the result of a report presented in January, 1926, by a University committee under the chairmanship of Professor Edmund E. Day, later president of Cornell University, a plan was developed for the reorganization and expansion of the athletic facilities of the University. Thus, the Stadium was only one part of a broader program which included the construction of the Sports Building and the Women's Athletic Building and the development of the University Golf Course and the Women's Athletic Field.
To finance this extensive program, bonds were sold to alumni and to friends of the University, giving them preferred Page 1585seats at all games for a period of years, these bonds to be retired progressively as the receipts warranted. The total improvements cost amounted to more than $2,000,000, of which the cost of the Stadium represented $1,183,545.
The site for the Stadium was a matter of some discussion, but eventually property, including some sixteen acres and 119 city lots, was acquired on South Main Street just across the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks from Ferry Field. This area was purchased by the Board in Control of Athletics for $239,000, including the cost of some lots which were taken under condemnation proceedings. The right of the Board in Control of Athletics to acquire land by this means was upheld by the state Supreme Court during the course of the negotiations. The site formed a gentle slope rising from the valley of the old Allen's Creek near the Ann Arbor Railroad to the level of South Main Street.
In considering plans for the Stadium it had been decided, in accordance with the recommendation of the Day committee, to make it a place to hold football games under the most favorable circumstances, with no emphasis upon monumental construction. Accordingly, a bowl type of structure was chosen which took advantage of the natural characteristics of the terrain so that the Stadium rests in the soil of the hillside instead of being enclosed within high concrete walls. The structure is above ground only on the east side, the only wall being on this side; on the west the top seats are level with the street, with some seventy rows of seats, seating 85,753 originally, stretching down to the playing field. A series of steps on either side of the main entrance leads to a wide areaway for the players.
The architects, instead of designing the structure in the form of a perfect ellipse, as in the Yale Bowl, provided for sides parallel to the playing field, bringing the spectators much closer to the side lines. This feature alone — the proximity of the seats to the playing field — has made Michigan's Stadium one of the most satisfactory in this country. The Stadium is 756 feet long and 586 feet wide and includes fifteen and one-half acres.
The strategically placed entrances and exits around the entire upper edge and in the center of the east side have also made it possible for crowds to disperse rapidly; in fact, the exact time for emptying the Stadium is thirteen minutes. To care for the throngs which come to Ann Arbor on football days, parking facilities have been supplied on all sides of the Stadium, and special city traffic regulations permit street parking during the games. Locker and shower room facilities for home and visiting teams are provided under the east side of the stands. A press box was erected over the west side of the Stadium. It affords room for five radio booths and 250 newspaper correspondents. The box was designed by Bernard L. Green ('91e) of the Osborn Engineering Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, and was built by James Leck and Company, of Minneapolis, general contractors. A new press box is now being built.
In 1949-50 additional steel seats were erected at the top of the Stadium at a cost of $304,340, making the total seating capacity 97,239.