Hugely festive scene in our neighborhood as cheering hockey fans, on foot and in a crawling stream of cars, buses and, just a minute ago, a stretch limo, make their way west on snowy East Stadium to the hockey game.
The Ann Arbor city council’s post-election meeting agenda for Nov. 7, 2013 would be heavy enough without the addition of an item that will almost certainly serve no purpose except political theater.
The council will be considering a resolution that asks the University of Michigan to decommission the $2.8 million digital marquee recently constructed by the university’s athletic department. I don’t think the university is going to give that any thought.
In this unnecessary drama, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) appears to be playing the role of Don Quixote, with four councilmembers auditioning for the role of Sancho – Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Margie Teall (Ward 4), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2). Those five are co-sponsoring the resolution. [If the council really wants to tilt at windmills, the city could have a literal one soon enough.]
The council’s Nov. 7 resolution cites the city’s own recently enacted sign ordinance, which constrains the deployment of digital technology for outdoor signs. According to the resolution, the marquee inflicts the same harms on the community that the city’s newly amended ordinance sought to prevent. [Petersen and Higgins, however, voted against that ordinance.] Those harms are described in the resolution as “distract[ing] motorists and substantially degrad[ing] the community viewshed…”
As the text of the council’s Nov. 7 resolution itself concedes, the University of Michigan is “without any obligation to comply with the ordinances of the city of Ann Arbor” – so the fact that the UM’s marquee rather flagrantly flouts the city council’s sign ordinance is of no consequence.
What is semantically bizarre about the text of the resolution is its contention that by turning the marquee off, or by limiting its use, the Ann Arbor community would be delivered a “material benefit.” If the council’s position really is that the marquee is doing harm, then by no rational standard should the mere mitigation of that perceived harm be labeled a “benefit,” much less a material one.
By way of analogy, if a chemical company is dumping toxic sludge onto my property and jeopardizing my health, then it’s not really a “benefit” to me if the company were to stop doing that. But it could be considered a benefit if the company allowed me to take my own personal toxic sludge and add it to the company’s pile, which the company then removed from my property.
If the city councilmembers who crafted the resolution had taken the phrase “material benefit” seriously, it might have given them pause to ask: Hey, could city residents derive some actual benefit from this situation? And that might have led them to reflect on the reason the UM athletic department wanted to construct this marquee. I think it’s an attempt to meet a communications challenge.
And guess what: The city of Ann Arbor has its own communication challenges. Can you see where this is headed? Or are you too distracted by the constantly changing display in the dumb little animated .gif at the top of this column?
A 9-minute video of the University of Michigan Marching Band performance at the Aug. 31, 2013 football game. The James Bond theme – “From Ann Arbor with Love” – features a jet-pack flight out of Michigan Stadium, and a cameo by UM president Mary Sue Coleman. [Source]
City streets on three sides of the University of Michigan football stadium will have traffic restrictions on game days in 2013. The Ann Arbor city council action authorizing street and lane closures came at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting.
Vehicle access on the fourth side of Michigan Stadium, on university property, will also be restricted.
The street closures are new security measures. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, it’s …
The University of Michigan athletic department plans to spend $6 million on a project to repaint the top and underside of the Michigan Stadium bowl. UM regents signed off on the project at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting.
The work will entail removing existing paint, removing or replacing corroded steel, and repainting with a corrosion-resistant paint to protect the metal. Because much of the existing painted surface contains lead-based paint, the project will also include lead-mitigation work, according to a staff memo.
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. will design the project, which is expected to provide about 15 on-site construction jobs. The job is expected to be finished in the the summer of 2014 and will be funded from athletic department resources.
The public address announcer at University of Michigan football games always reminds the fans that they are part of the largest crowd watching a college game anywhere in America. What he could also brag about these days is that those same 112,000 or so people sitting in Michigan Stadium are making the game the most photographed event anywhere in America that day.
At the Nov. 10 University of Michigan game against Northwestern, local journalist Lynn Monson documented that no matter where you look on Game Day, someone has a camera raised. Here’s a small selection of the people who decided to freeze moments in time before, during and after the game won by UM in overtime, 38-31.
Installation of a $2.8 million marquee – located at Michigan Stadium, adjacent to the Crisler Center and visible from East Stadium Boulevard – was approved by the University of Michigan board of regents at their July 19, 2012 meeting.
UM athletics director David Brandon spoke briefly to describe the project. Calling it an exciting communications tool, he indicated that it’s not uncommon to find this kind of marquee at other institutions. The marquee will be used to display video, graphics, logos and other images to highlight upcoming events, programs, accomplishments and initiatives of the UM athletic department and its student athletes. [map showing location of marquee (yellow dot)] [view of marquee looking east on E. Stadium Boulevard] [view of ...
At a special meeting called for Feb. 8, 2012, the University of Michigan board of regents voted unanimously to approve the use of Michigan Stadium for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic, which is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013. The NHL will pay $3 million for the license to use the stadium from Dec. 1, 2012 until mid-January. Areas surrounding the stadium would be used for a more limited period.
In January of this year, various media outlets reported that the 2013 Winter Classic would be held at Michigan Stadium, between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. There has not yet been an official announcement from the NHL.
According to a staff memo, the university would be responsible for providing support …
The University of Michigan board of regents has called a special meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. According to a press release issued on the afternoon of Feb. 7, the topic of the meeting regards authorization to enter into a facility-use lease for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic. The Winter Classic is held in early January at an outdoor venue. In January of this year, various media outlets reported that the 2013 Winter Classic would be held at Michigan Stadium, between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. There has not yet been an official announcement from the NHL.
The regents’ Feb. 8 meeting is open to the public and will be held at the boardroom of …
When the University of Michigan Wolverines play Big Ten opponents in football, the video record of some plays can be reviewed by game officials – under conditions set forth by the conference. One kind of reviewable play is the completion of a forward pass: Did that player actually receive the ball from the quarterback in a way that, under the rules of American football, constitutes a completed pass than can be carried forward on the field of play?
For its proceedings, the Ann Arbor city council does not have a video replay rule.
But if it did, here’s the kind of play that might be reviewable: Did a city council-appointed board receive advice from the city’s financial quarterback in a way that, under ordinary rules of plain American English discourse, constitutes a recommendation that should be carried forward in a future board policy?
At issue is whether two seasons ago, back in February 2009, city of Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford recommended to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority that the DDA have a policy to maintain a minimum fund balance as a reserve, and specifically, whether a minimum reserve amount was specified.
The question was important over the last two years in the course of negotiations between the DDA and the city about the contract under which the DDA manages Ann Arbor’s public parking system.
The remarks made by Crawford – which everyone seems to recall (albeit differently) – took place in plain view on the public field of play, at the Feb. 17, 2009 city council meeting.
What made the public conversation remarkable in the waning stages of contract negotiations, was that it was based on what the different players (including Crawford) recalled Crawford saying. Why not just take an approach familiar to the Big Ten college football conference, and review the tape to find out exactly what Crawford said?
Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 3, 2011): On the day after city council primary elections, the planning commission had a light agenda, which featured only two action items.
First, the commission approved a site plan by Verizon for a temporary cellular tower to be set up on the property of the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club, near Main and Stadium. The cell on wheels (COW) will boost service during the University of Michigan home football games.
Second, the commission approved a minor revision to its bylaws. Instead of reviewing its work plan in December, the work plan review will come in May each year.
The commission also got an update from its city council representative, and a heads-up on future issues through an announcement of public hearings.
The hearings include one on zoning and annexation into the city of property on South State Street where Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky has opened for business.
Local photographer Myra Klarman captured these images for The Chronicle of the May 1 University of Michigan commencement exercises at Michigan Stadium.
At the dedication game of Michigan’s new 84,401-seat stadium in 1927, the Wolverines sent new rival Ohio State home with a 21-0 thumping. In that informal era, it was perfectly natural for athletic director Fielding Yost to walk back to campus with the game’s star, Bennie Oosterbaan.
“Mr. Yost was feeling pretty good,” Oosterbaan told author Al Slote. “We’d won, and the stadium was completely filled. He turned to me and said, ‘Bennie, do you know what the best thing about that new stadium is? Eighty-five thousand people paid five dollars apiece for their seats – and Bennie, they had to leave the seats there!‘”
While no one can be certain what Yost would think of the luxury boxes that are going up right now (and no matter what the university is calling them, that’s clearly what they are), the record suggests he would approve it – and for the very reasons he pushed to build the Big House in the first place.
Several Chronicle readers who live in the neighborhood surrounding Michigan Stadium alerted us to emails they received today about sound tests planned for Friday afternoon and early evening. In his email, Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for the University of Michigan, states that from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m. on March 13, approximately five tests will be conducted that will sound like a “cannon shot.”
Reached by phone this afternoon, Kosteva said the tests will generate about 140 decibels of sound from a device positioned at the north end of the stadium in front of the scoreboard, facing into the stadium.
It is always nice to have a place to sit – and thanks to advocates for persons with disabilities, there are more seats for people with disabilities at the University of Michigan’s “Big House.”
Throughout history, people in America have had to stand up for their rights. It was no different in this case. Discrimination about adequate seating arrangements for persons with disabilities at UM goes back decades.
Prior to the recent major renovation of Michigan Stadium, there were only 88 out of 107,000 seats that accommodated someone in a wheelchair – and they were lousy seats in the end zone. UM signed a consent agreement to more than double the “handicapped” seating to 188 after a lawsuit was filed by the …