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.
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.
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.