Bill Martin’s lasting legacy as Athletic Director is impressive list of facilities built or renovated during his watch.
Football, baseball, softball, and wrestling are among the sports that now have top rate facilities. Ice hockey has venerable Yost Ice Arena, with some of the most rabid fans in all of college athletics.
Virtually ignored during the building frenzy has been Crisler Arena.
Sure, new lights were installed and a new practice facility is on the way but the facility itself has some serious problems that need to be solved.
I believe that these problem would best be solved by having a crane working at Michigan Stadium “accidentally” knock the place down for the insurance money but what do I know?
Apparently the athletic department has no problem finding $226 million for Michigan Stadium which gets used eight or nine times a year but has to look through the couch cushions to scrounge together $20 million for renovating Crisler that three varsity sports call home.
So basketball is figuratively, and with new renovations to Michigan Stadium literally in the shadow of the football program. From the steps of Crisler you can gaze on the incredible new football field house, and then glance over to the glorious new softball/baseball complex nestled next to Yost Ice Arena.
What does a revenue sport need to do to get some love?
Here are the things that any renovation need to to address.
1. Add some character to the place
Crisler Arena has all the character of a K-Mart; bleak and depressing. It’s the ugly building next to Michigan Stadium. Nothing about it says, Michigan, history or tradition. It’s design cues echo the utilitarian cookie-cutter stadiums built in the late 1960’s and 70’s that have mostly (thankfully) been replaced.
2. Lose the top rows
The view from the upper reaches of Crisler Arena is terrible. It’s like watching basketball on google earth. Remove the top 5 or 10 rows and reduce capacity. Make the venue more intimate. Bring the crown into the game.
3. Ditch the cushy seats
The seats at Crisler are nice and comfortable. Like a movie theater. They encourage you to stay seated. Any renovation needs to look at some seats that encourage crowd participation.
4. Fix the concourses
The concourses need to be opened up with more space and light. Add more bathrooms. Improve the display cases- use multimedia to highlight all UM sports and loop Big Ten network footage.
An energized crowd makes up for a substandard facility. The team needs to be regular participants in March Madness not to mention competing for Big Ten Title.