Madej Discusses Facilities on WTKA

Assistant A.D./Director of Athletic Media Relations Bruce Madej was interviewed by Dennis Fithiam on WTKA (1050 AM in Ann Arbor) yesterday (Thurs.). Madej made some interesting remarks on U-M athletic facility improvements.

Q: What's going on down at the Stadium?

Madej: Field Turf is in the process of being placed. They're laying the limestone right now and trying to make sure that is even. The rain didn't help today – the weather has hindered our process a little bit, but we're still going to be in good shape. We would have liked to have had the field done for the Women's Academy on Saturday. The new football locker room is also being built in the place of the old locker room, so a lot of the work you see behind the stadium is for the new home football locker room. It will be quite pleasant in relation to what we had in the past. What most people don't realize is that we couldn't dress the entire football team in the locker room.

Q: How many wins is that going to translate into for Lloyd Carr and Company?

Madej: Well, I don't know how many wins it's going to translate into this year or next year, but I can tell you that the facilities around the conference have been improving and you have to have something that's good, that's nice for the players to go to. If you look at what's happening at Ohio State (with their facilities) and Michigan State is planning changes. Purdue has changed their locker room and press box unbelievably. Wisconsin has done the same. If you look even at Penn State, they've done a lot. There have to be some changes. We've only changed the football locker room twice since the 1950s and that's not a lot of change there. We've had some problems in there. Now I think it's going to be very nice. It's going to be more than adequate for the next 10, 15, 20 years and I think that's what you have to do – build for the future.

Q: It used to be that the Stadium was open to the public, is there a schedule for when the Stadium is open now given the events of September 11?

Madej: The only thing that has changed is that we close the Stadium on Wednesday nights before a home football game. Otherwise, the Stadium is pretty much open from 7am-3pm every day, though there may be areas you can't access at this time – specifically on the East side. If there are people interested in watching the turf being installed, I would suggest they go in through Gate 9 on the West side of the Stadium (the press box side). After 9/11, we decided to close the Stadium on Wednesdays so that we could have two days to make sure the Stadium was set to go before we have our 100,000 fans in.

Q: The RV parking at Pioneer is $105. Does the AD have anything to do with that?

Madej: No. But everywhere you go, the cost is increasing. You take a look at what we're doing here at Michigan – our budget is a little over $60 million now. Back in 1978, we made a big deal when we broke the $20 million mark. Now we're funding 25 sports and only two sports make money, football and basketball. Hockey makes a little money or breaks even, but only football and basketball make your money. You just hope you don't take the goose that laid the golden egg and kill it.

Q: What is the status of the press box renovation?

Madej: It's been talked about for quite a bit. I broke the story on the enclosed seating when I was a writer for the Ann Arbor News back in 1978, so that's how many years it has been discussed. People don't realize, but that Stadium was built in 1927 and it's still a gorgeous-looking facility. Yet there are things that need to be made to keep that thing up. Some of the changes you won't even see. During Weidenbach's era, we were literally taking a section per year and putting new cement in. Any time that you have something outside in this weather for 12 months, you're going to have problems. There are always maintenance issues.

Q: With the Field Turf going down, does that open up opportunities for concerts and possibly another outdoor hockey game?

Madej: It all depends. There has been so much talk about everything, I kind of laugh about it. A couple of years ago, the Ann Arbor News ran a story about a Bob Seger concert. But this is all discussion. In some ways, it's no different than a couple of guys sitting at a local tavern saying "This is what they should do." But you have to realize, you don't just open a stadium up. We have to have the Stadium operational for events. Just the spring football game requires us to spend quite a bit of money – the bathrooms need to be prepared because they're shut down, the water is shut down. So when you do things in the off-season, then you need to do maintenance 12 months a year. Then what does your cost look like? What type of problems are those going to cost? And the Field Turf is not like the old Astroturf where you could place things on top of it and just basically run a truck on the thing. This is a lot softer and you're going to have to place wood on it. It's not much different than the regular field. You're going to have to cover the field. It's not like at Michigan State where you can put the ice right down on top of the field.

Q: Is Michigan upgrading facilities step-by-step rather than in one fell swoop like Ohio State?

Madej: Yes. We're doing the football locker-room and we're going to be putting a football recruiting area down there as well. We're going section by section to make sure the Stadium is still standing 50 years from now. Also, you have to remember that we haven't done certain things other schools have done. There is no advertising in the Stadium. The facility still looks the same as it did in the 1950s. When we added the scoreboards, we got a lot of grief about it. But when we did a recent survey, people said they really liked the scoreboards. Also, Ohio State changed the structure of the horseshoe and that was a problem for them. There were politics involved. The facility is in great shape. It is in a lot better shape than Ohio State's was (prior to the renovation). Trust me.

Q: What about the possibility of lights?

Madej: No lights.

Q: What about start times for the games?

Madej: Right now we have a few. Notre Dame is a 3:30 pm game. We will probably play Houston and Central at noon. Ohio State is a noon game. Oregon is a 3:30 pm game (12:30 pm Pacific time). Iowa is going to be a 3:30 pm game (2:30 pm Central time). We don't know what's going to happen with Minnesota yet (if the Twins get in the World Series).

(Thanks to "GutierrezForHeismann" for the transcription)

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