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Michigan Football: 4 Reasons the Big House Is the Best College Football Stadium

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IIMay 2, 2013

Michigan Football: 4 Reasons the Big House Is the Best College Football Stadium

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    There are very few stadiums in college football that can match the game-day experience Michigan Stadium provides its fans with. The Big House is one of the most historic and widely recognized sporting venues in the country, which helps separate it from the rest of the outstanding stadiums across the country.

    Many years ago, legendary Michigan football radio broadcaster Bob Ufer referred to the stadium as "the hole that (Fielding H.) Yost dug, (Don) Canham carpeted and (Bo) Schembechler filled."

    Today, Michigan Stadium is simply referred to as the Big House. Recent renovations have given the stadium a fresh look and has made it louder than ever before.

    Four things help make the home of the Wolverines better than any other college football stadium. Click ahead to find out what they are!

No Other Stadium Holds More Fans

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    Not only is the Big House the largest college football venue, it is the third-largest stadium in the entire world. Michigan Stadium's official capacity is 109,901, though it has eclipsed that mark on several occasions. 

    Only North Korea's Rungrado May Day Stadium (150,000) and Salt Lake Stadium (120,000) in India facilitate more fans than the Big House.

    Fans do not let any seat go unoccupied either. Michigan's home finale against the Iowa Hawkeyes last season marked the 244th consecutive game at least 100,000 people were in attendance.  

    Recent renovations have allowed Michigan to remain among the largest stadiums on any continent. When it opened for play on Oct. 1, 1927, only 72,000 fans were able to see the Wolverines in person. Twenty-eight years and three expansions later, the capacity reached 101,001. It took five more expansion and remodeling projects for the stadium to reach its current size.

    The primary reason why the Big House is able to hold so many fans is because of where the bowl actually rests in relation to ground level. Nearly 75 percent of the stadium had to be built below ground level to offset the effects of a high water table.

    Size does matter when it comes to talking about the best stadiums in college football. There is no one able to match Michigan in this regard.

     

    All stadium information on this slide courtesy of MGoBlue.com.

State-of-the-Art Upgrades

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    Those large structures overlooking the sideline halves of the stadium seen in the picture on the previous slide were not built until 2010. Michigan sensed it lagged behind in terms of luxury boxes and electronic scoreboards, so it built $226 million worth of upgrades.

    A total of 85 suites were built along with a brand new press box, over 2,900 club seats and long overdue restroom improvements were finally made. 

    One year later, new electronic scoreboards were erected at both ends of the stadium. The state-of-the-art LED screens are 47 feet high and 85 feet wide. When including the borders of the scoreboards, they check in at a whopping 62 feet in height and 108 feet in width.

    Permanent lights were also added to both sides of the stadium as well to accommodate the first night game in the history of the Big House. Notre Dame and Michigan will get together for another night game in Ann Arbor this season.

    All of these improvements gave the fabled stadium a much needed facelift, which has only added to the visual beauty of Michigan Stadium.

    Venues across the country will have to keep remodeling in order to keep pace with Michigan's premier football stadium.

It Is Much More Than Just a Football Stadium

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    Although Michigan Stadium has been synonymous with the Wolverines football team, it played host to another record-setting event back in 2010. 

    The Big Chill at the Big House, a college hockey game between Michigan and in-state rival Michigan State, broke the sport's attendance record. Exactly 113,411 fans were on hand to see the CCHA foes clash, which shattered the previous record of 77,803.

    A second outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium has already been scheduled for 2014. This time, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will square off in the NHL's Winter Classic on New Year's Day. There is a chance the game could eclipse 100,000 fans, but it would be a shocker if it managed to set a new world record.

    Regardless of how many fans show up, it will be the first time a college football stadium has hosted an NHL game.

    Look for the Big House to host plenty of other special events in the coming years.

All of the Historical Moments on the Field

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    There are too many memories from historical games to recount all of them in one sitting. From Desmond Howard's Heisman pose in 1991 to Anthony Carter's game-winning touchdown catch against Indiana in 1979, the Maize and Blue faithful have seen plenty of unbelievable events at Michigan Stadium.

    Tim Biakabutuka's 313-yard game helped Michigan top Ohio State at the Big House to wrap up the 1995 regular season. Charles Woodson ended the Heisman Trophy race and helped the Wolverines make an undefeated run to the Rose Bowl with a punt return touchdown against Ohio State two years later.

    Way back in 1969, the Wolverines pulled off one of the most unexpected upsets in college football history by taking down No. 1 Ohio State 24-12 at the Big House. This game also sparked what would become The 10 Year War between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes. 

    In 2005, Michigan topped the highly-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions with an 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired. 

    The Wolverines also wowed the home crowd with miraculous comeback victories over Michigan State in 2004 and Notre Dame in 2011. The latter contest set the Michigan Stadium attendance record (114,804).

    Those are just a few of the historic events that have taken place at the Big House. Other stadiums have hosted plenty of memorable moments as well, but it is tough to match what Michigan fans have seen in Ann Arbor.

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