- 333 E. Stadium Blvd
- Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- (734) 998-7236
When I got the e-mail asking if I was available to shoot men’s basketball at Crisler Arena, I have to admit, I was a little pumped. Growing up in the far away land of Central Illinois, Ann Arbor was this far away, mystical place we saw on TV every Saturday afternoon. I would have been in junior high during the Fab Five years and there were wars at my house over college basketball. My brother was a Michigan fan while I rooted for Duke. This was also about the time Nike was coming out with “authentic” apparel. My brother had the Jalen Rose jersey and matching shorts. I had a number of Duke shooter shoots. As far as we were concerned, Crisler Arena was one of those places we’d never go to, but would have given anything, at that time, to see a game there.
Well, I got my chance 10 plus years later. Crisler Arena is on the campus of U of M in the shadow of Michigan Stadium. My first impression was, “wow.” That’s not a good wow. That’s a “I can’t believe this” wow. The place is so run down it doesn’t look fit for a basketball program with the history and aura of the Michigan Wolverines. The seats were rusted, they were small and low to the ground. From a broadcast point of view, Crisler is one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever worked at. I’ve never been to Big Ten stadium where all of the cable had to be run from the truck. After being there five minutes, all the expectations I had as a kid were squashed. I’m really glad my brother hasn’t been there.
There were some positives about Crisler Arenea. Parking was a big one. Soooooooo much better than the Breslin Center, but that was the only thing better than MSU’s arena. The more I go to different arenas, the more I appreciate the Breslin Center as actually being a somewhat modern facility. I was talking with one of my co-workers and he brought up a good point about the Big Ten. Every school has sunk millions of dollars into facilities used eight times a year (football stadiums) and neglect their indoor arena which is used upwards of sixty times. I always thought Illinois’ Assembly Hall had problems, but it’s not as bad as Crisler.
I made my way up to the concourse to check out the food situation. They did have a lot of concession space which is nice when the place sells out like it did tonight. I didn’t notice anything unique which is fine with me. If I can get a pop corn and a pop for the game, I’m really happy and I could smell the popcorn on my walk up the stairs.
Like I mentioned, the place was sold out and got loud. It got really loud. The Maize Rage sits behinds the team benches and they didn’t quit all night. That’s my favorite thing about college basketball. I love the student sections and see how they get into the game. I thought some of the chants were a little inappropriate and I couldn’t believe they put Ohio State family right in the middle of the Maize Rage, but the kids were loud and into the game while the rest of the arena sat on their hands until U of M made a run. The kids stayed on their feet and into the game no matter what was happening. That is awesome.
Michigan has been putting a lot of money into their sports facilities, but, to my surprise, they have a long way to go when compared with some of the other Big Ten schools. I’m really happy that I’ve gotten to see Crisler Arena and I do hope to go back, but all my ideas of what Crisler Arena was have been destroyed. One of these days, these schools are going to update their indoor arenas……maybe these multi-million dollar football stadiums will bring in some much needed money. Now, if I can just get some work at The Big House……