Stadium Guide: Crisler Arena


Yesterday I visited the basketball arena on the campus of Michigan. Crisler Arena was dedicated on the same day as Mackey Arena, December 2, 1967. Two Big Ten Arenas opening on the same day. It is fitting then that I saw my first game there against Purdue. One thing that sticks out in my mind from the day was the missing banners in the rafters. In the photo on the left you can see the banners lit up just before the National Anthem was played. It is really sad to see how the mistakes of a few have affected a program so much. I think that you will see Michigan on top again. They have too much clout around the country to just simply fade away. In the next few paragraphs I will give my opinion on the different aspects of the stadium.
Location A: From where I live in Northwest Indiana it was not very far to get to Ann Arbor. The stadium is not very far off of 94 either. Once you are off of the highway you go down a few roads to the stadium. From what I could see they have these four lane roads set up so that you could run all four lanes away from the stadium. It seems as if they have a plan to get you in and out. It helps when you are located next to a stadium that seats 100,000+. They have to have good plans to get all of those people out.
Parking B+: This one is tough to grade. We parked to eat lunch about a mile from the stadium, and decided to make the walk. From where we were there was no direct line from fourth street to Crisler. On the way I saw some lots that were empty that look as if you needed a pass to park in them. From the picture on the left you can see the view from one of the lots right around the stadium. I also saw an $8.00 lot for the public. I would think that it would be hard to find a place to park if the stadium was actually filled. Except for a couple of lots by the stadium the parking is spread out behind buildings. It could be hard to find. That is why the lower grade.
Ushers B: I really had no contact with them except for the woman who scanned my ticket in. During the game they were at every aisle keeping tabs on the fans. We moved down to the lower bowl for the second half and nobody said anything to us. The one black mark that I saw was the fact that the ushers moved two Purdue fans with 2:00 to go in the game because the Michigan fans were sick of them standing. They stood for 38 minutes of game time with no problem, but the ushers decided that the last two minutes were out of the question. The redeeming factor of all of this though was the fact that they moved them directly behind the Boilers bench. When I say directly I mean the chairs behind the players. That would be a pretty cool experience for two students from Purdue.

Tradition A-:To the right you can see the retired jerseys that hang from the rafters. They only have five of them up there, and not one member of the fab five is among them. They also have a banner for each Big Ten Championship, each final four appearance, each NIT win, and the National Championship that they won. As I said earlier with the banners from the fab five era taken down there is a lot more room among the rafters. I do like how they did the banners, and in this picture as well as the picture at the begining of the post you can see how they spotlight the banners during the anthem. This is very nicely done. Another thing that I like is the fact that they have an area around the concourse very similar to the one at the Joyce Center. If you walk around the concourse you can peer into glass cases that contain memoribilia from great moments in various sports. They also have a display case set aside for Michigan Alum Gerald Ford. Every year they give out an award for scholar athletes in his name. The award is a wooden book a picture of that case can be seen below. Overall I think that they do a good job displaying their history. The one problem though is that the concourse is so small that it is hard to get around it to see all the memoribilia. Oh yeah, they also play the school song quite often. They play it fast, slow, and at normal speed. I have never really liked Michigan, so I have grown up hating the song. I would be a bad one to judge it. I realize that it is a great college fight song, but I have trouble saying it is better than other fight songs that I like.

Concessions A: When I went in to the stadium all I wanted was a water. I expected the normal $4.00, but I was shocked to see that it was only $2.50 for a water. A quick look at the other items on the menu showed me that it was the usual food for a college basketball game, but at a lower price. They also had a few carts with various specialty items throughout the stadium. One stand in particular drove me crazy for most of the game. I could smell cinnemon from the second that I walked in the stadium. I never saw the place where they were selling it, but I wanted to find it many times. I gave the concessions an A based on price and selection. I did not eat at the stadium though. The food may be horrible that is why it is so cheap. I think it is hard to screw up hot dogs and nachos so I am going to guess that
Bathrooms C-: I visited a couple of the bathrooms in different parts of the stadium. What I found was that they were very small all around. At halftime a line quickly ended up in the hallway, and then down the hallway. It is an older stadium so I guess that this is to be expected. They just seemed very small, and cramped.
Scoreboard B: From what I have read this scoreboard was put up in 1998. It gives you the current players on the floor, their points, and their fouls. The home team is on the right side, and the away team is on the left hand side. In the middle of the board is a video screen that shows the play live, and also gives instant replays. This is a great feature when you are at a game because you can’t watch everything. They also have boards in the upper arena that give you the time left Another constant that I saw yesterday was the Meijer ad on the scoreboard. If you are in Michigan you will see some Meijer ads. This is a great scoreboard that gives you the information and video that you need during the game. It is a basic design though, and I am getting spoiled by the smaller boards at Purdue that give more detailed specifics during the game.
Playing Surface A-: The court was redone in 2001. The one thing that I did notice during the game was the fact that the coaches box seemed much thinner than some of the other stadiums that I have been too. The coaches had to constantly watch so that they didn’t trip over their players. This category is hard to judge for a basketball game. Most Big Ten floors look the same. All that I can really judge it on is how it looks. It is a very simple design with just the large M in the center. Everything is done very simply, and I think that it is done well. As I said earlier, this category is more for other sports like football and baseball. Only glaring issues would bring this down for a basetball game.
Seating A: Crisler Arena holds 13,751 people. This is the second smallest arena in the Big Ten. I went to the other one about a month ago. It is hard for me to believe that Michigan only seats more people than Northwestern in the Big Ten. From inside the stadium looks like it would seat many more than just under 14,000. I think that this is because of the way that the seats are put in. Every seat is the old movie theater style padded seat. They are huge, and you have plenty of room all around you. The seats are a little older, but they are very comfortable.
Tickets A-: Face value $15 for upper bowl. I found two on Ebay for $27 with shipping. After I bought the tickets I saw plenty of good deals that the university put on trying to get people in. I saw somewhere that for $10 you got a ticket in the nosebleeds, a hot dog, and a drink. That seems pretty reasonable. That is just because they are trying to fill the arena. When the team is playing well I can imagine tickets are hard to come by.
Fans A: Once again I had very little contact with the fans here. In our row we had some fellow Boiler fans. Once we moved down into the lower bowl we ran across some very nice Michigan fans. Except for a car load of youner uneducated (they had no idea where their team was in the Big Ten) fans we never ran into any bad fans. Maybe the Paint Crew has spoiled me, but the Maize Rage didn’t seem all that bad. Another reason is that the team has had such a down year, and hasn’t been to the tournament for a long time. Michigan places their students right behind the media table, and they are right on the court. Spanning the length of the court they can be in the face of the opposing team both halves. This setup could really be intimidating if the fans are into the game. A couple of times during the game they really got into it yelling and jumping, but for the most part they watched the game just like everyone else did. It was so quiet in the stadium you could hear players and coaches on the floor in the upper bowl.

Food and Entertainment A: About a mile away from the stadium is a downtown area with many different choices for food and entertainment. We ate lunch at the Arbor Brewing Company. It was very good food, but if you ever go there just remember that the garlic fries are smothered in garlic. We had a hard time getting the garlic taste out of our mouths after eating there. At the Arbor Brewing company they brew their own beers, and it seems like it is a popular place to be before a game. After the game we ate at the Monkey Bar. This seemed like a nice bar, but nobody was in there. The few people that did come in seemed to know the waitstaff, and appeared to just be there for the free pool. A couple of nights a week they have free pool to patrons who order food and drinks. If I was a college student on that campus it would seem like I would take advantage of that. From what the bartender said they don’t. They must be doing things like studying. The food at the Monkey Bar was good, and the fries did not make my breath so bad that you could smell it over the phone. I gave this an A because there seemed to be tons of places to eat whatever your taste, and plenty of clubs downtown to listen to various forms of music. You could make a night of it if you wanted to.
Overall B+: I really like this stadium. It is over forty years old, but it has its finer points. The one reason that I did not give the stadium an A is because of the bathrooms. It seems like a little point, but it makes a difference overall.
Interesting Fact: The Arena was designed by Dan Dworsky who was a linebacker on the 1948 Rose Bowl team at Michigan. His coach was Herbert Crisler who the Arena is named after.
These are a work in progress, and I hope I get a little better with each one. Over the next couple of weeks I may put out a couple of more from stadiums that I have visited in the past.
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