The home of Michigan basketball since 1967, Crisler Arena officially was renamed Crisler Center in 2012. The new name is meant to reflect the expansion of Crisler Arena. It is now very much of the center of Michigan athletics. Crisler Center is the home to men’s and women’s basketball and also women’s gymnastics.
The $100 million of renovations have completely transformed the experience of attending a Michigan basketball game. What used to be a dark concourse with standard displays to past Wolverine athletics accomplishments has become a bright and fun feast for the eyes. The entrance to Crisler Arena used to be less than ideal with steps to climb and long lines running out the door into the cold winter weather. The new northeast entrance has created more interior space, a quicker entry, and a beautiful escalator entrance to the new main lobby of Crisler. You’ll find a new waterfall, kids zone, concession stands, and trophy display area.
The interior looks great as well with a brand new floor and scoreboard installed before the 2011-2012 season. In all, this has gone from an above average but not memorable experience to one of the truly outstanding experiences in all of college basketball.
Crisler Arena was originally known as the University Events Building, but renamed in honor of former football coach Fritz Crisler in 1970. Interestingly, it was one of Crisler’s former players, linebacker Dan Dworsky, who served as the architect on the construction.
The nickname of the building has been “The House That Cazzie Built,” in honor of former Wolverine great Cazzie Russell, whose number 33 hangs above the court, the first of five players to have the distinction of having their number retired at Michigan (Rudy Tomjanovich’s #45, Phill Hubbard’s #35, Glenn Rice’s #41, and Bill Buntin’s #22 are the others). There’s a nice mural in the renovated concourse to commemorate that nickname.
If you have been to Crisler prior to 2012, then it is time to go again, and see what $100M in renovations can do to a sports arena. It is truly something to see.
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There is a single concourse that connects the upper and lower seating sections, so even though the lighting is much better, it can still get a little crowded during peak times. One significant upgrade is also with the concessions. The menu items are posted on a screen and there are also television monitors so fans can stay up to date on the game action or other happenings in sports.
There is little that could be described as unique or spectacular when you look at the concession offerings, but there's certainly enough to get you through the contest. Basics like hot dog ($4.50), soft pretzel ($4.50), "super nachos" ($7), and "popped maize" (that's popcorn, $5) are all here at higher prices than what you'll find at most Big Ten arenas.
Philly cheesesteak or chicken cheesesteak can be ordered as a sandwich or as a nachos creation ($9 across the board).
Coca-Cola is the soft drink provider, and a souvenir-sized soda will cost you $6 for 32 ounces (regular size is $4.50). Bottled water ($4), and Tim Horton's coffee ($3) are on hand. You can get your coffee in a large Wolverine souvenir mug as well ($8).
I'm a sucker for the intoxicating smell of the roasted nuts that are available including almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sesame seeds in various flavors ($6 per bag). They also have butterfly gummies at this stand, another favorite for your sweet tooth.
Overall, the food is decent, but lacks a true signature item, and the prices definitely feel like they are on the high side. My recommendation is to save your appetite for some of the restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor if you plan to be in town for a while, but if you're hungry you should be able to find something you like.
There's no doubt that the new entrance makes an immediate impression when you arrive at Crisler Center. You'll want to enter on the northeast side of the building so you can experience this, and head up the escalator to the renovated concourse. Make sure you arrive early and take a full walk around. If you have kids with you, they will undoubtedly want to visit the Kids Zone, and the new trophy is also a highlight, including Charles Woodson's Heisman Trophy, and the Little Brown Jug among many others.
If you've been here before, you'll find it hard to believe that this is the same arena. No longer will you find dark concourses, but rather well lighted passage through the arena.
Once you make your way to your seat, you'll find average legroom in the blue chairbacks, which are padded and have cupholders throughout.
The four-sided scoreboard hangs over center court, offering key replays, and live play. The screen size is clear and big enough to be impressive, but not so big that you will find it to be a distraction.
The Michigan pep band plays a huge role in adding to the atmosphere. In general, a good pep band really helps to make college sporting events special, and Michigan has perhaps the best band in the country. If the students are on break, you can expect the Michigan Alumni Band to step in and fill the void with aplomb.
Ann Arbor is undeniably one of the great college towns in the United States. All of Michigan's major athletic facilities (Michigan Stadium, Yost Ice Arena, and Ray Fisher Stadium) are within about a mile of downtown, so there are numerous options for spending some time before or after a game. If you can, consider making a weekend out of your visit.
If you like locally made beers, then you have several great options to visit in Ann Arbor. My favorite bar of all-time may very well be Ashley's, where they have 46 beers on tap, and hundreds of others by the bottle. They also have pretty decent bar food, and I'm a big fan of the stilton fries. It's a bit of a hike from Crisler Center (1.3 miles), but if it is a nice winter day you may want to make the trip. Or, consider parking in that direction, perhaps on State Street near Yost Ice Arena.
Ann Arbor Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin, Grizzly Peak, and Blue Tractor are all great spots for food and microbrews as well. My preference is for the Blue Tractor because of their great BBQ.
If you want to expand your palate, then you can also find solid Italian food at Gratzi or Mani Osteria. Try Blue Nile for Ethiopian food, Frita Batidos for Cuban, Miki for sushi, or Shalimar for Indian food.
Grange has high end local and sustainable products and delicious and adventurous plates. And no visit to Ann Arbor is complete if you love food without a journey to the iconic Zingerman's Deli.
If you have little ones with you, then consider making a trip to the Ann Arbor Hands On Children's Museum. If you're staying the night and want to stay near downtown, then you may want to try the Bell Tower Hotel for something different than your chain hotel.
The placement of the students is key. The maize-clad young men and women sit in the lower section that stretches behind the benches for each team. Here they can influence the game with their cheers, and can serve as either encouragers or distractors depending on which bench they sit behind. Look for this group to be standing throughout the contest, and really lead the way to making for a great home court advantage.
With the recent success of the Michigan basketball program under John Beilein, the rest of the crowd has perked up as well. Winning certainly changes the fan behavior, but I think that it works both ways. This crowd seems happier and more enthusiastic than ever before. Some of that is a good team on the floor, but some of it seems to be due to the renovations of the facility.
Parking is an expensive experience if you want to be near Crisler Center. You can plan on paying $20 for the best spots, and $10 for spots a couple of blocks from the arena. If the weather is nice, and you're willing to walk a mile or so, then I would recommend parking downtown, either in one of the parking garages, or on the street if you can find a space. Perhaps you can begin to lookout for parking spaces downtown, and take the first one you come across.
If you can't find anything, there are always spaces in the nearby Ann Arbor Pioneer High School parking lot ($10). It's not an outrageous price by any means, but you'll still have a long block to walk to get inside.
Restrooms at Crisler Center have undergone renovations, and everything is completely automated and hands free. From flushing the toilet, to turning on the sink, to extracting soap, to drying your hands, and finally walking out the door you won't have to touch anything. Outside many restrooms there are additional hand sanitizing dispensers, adding to an overall clean experience.
Tickets for the 2012-2013 season will cost you $20 a seat for less appealing Big Ten opponents, up slightly from the season before. You may find seats hard to find as the team's success and the renovations have many fans trying to get it in who have passed in other years. If you are a fan of Michigan athletics, then this is well worth the price, and for this level of basketball it is still worth the price. Concessions are a bit high by my estimation, and parking can be expensive, but also can be mitigated if you're willing to walk a bit. Overall though, you can plan on spending $40-$45 per person for a ticket, parking, something to eat, and drink. That can add up for a family.
Look for occasional deals, especially prior to the start of the conference season for a good bargain.
Downtown Ann Arbor is worth an extra point. If you don't spend time exploring before or after the game, then you're missing out on a big part of the experience.
One extra point to the university for their investment in this renovation. It has to be one of the most successful renovations of a basketball arena in the NCAA.
A specific extra point to the small, but fun Kid Zone that was added outside section 212. Your young ones will want to spend some time there before or perhaps during the game.
An extra point for the history on display. Getting up to and personal with a Heisman Trophy is not an everyday experience.
Finally, an extra point for the student section at Michigan. I hope they will remain this enthusiastic when the Wolverines have a down year. This group has come a long ways, and now can be considered among the best in the Big Ten, if not the country.
If you want to see a renovation done well, then Crisler Center should be on your itinerary in the near future. If you want to experience some great college basketball, then Crisler Center should be on your itinerary in the near future. If you want a great town to visit with the excuse of seeing some sports, then Crisler Center should be on your itinerary in the near future. You get the point.
Crisler Arena opened in 1967, as part of a culmination of the best stretch of Michigan basketball in the program's history. Big Ten Championships in 1964, 1965, and 1966 as well as Final Four appearances in 1964, and 1965, all under the leadership of star player, Cazzie Russell. It's because of Russell's dominance in that era that Crisler Arena became known as "The House that Cazzie Built."
Today you'll find a venue that is excitable, but not electric. More importantly, the fans seem to be waiting for a team to really get behind, and regain the prominence they enjoyed in the era that spanned from the careers of Glen Rice to The Fab Five.
Ann Arbor is one of those quintessential college towns that seem to have everything. Great restaurants and bars, cultural diversity, and most of all great college sports venues can be found in abundance. While most people will think of football in the Big House when thinking of significant University of Michigan sports structures, Crisler Arena is a fine, but not exceptional, destination for college basketball junkies.
There's a new name of the arena that is home to Michigan basketball in Ann Arbor. Opened as Crisler Arena in 1967, it is now known as the Crisler Center, as renovations continue through 2012. New seating has been completed, including railing in the aisles, and upgraded views for handicap seating, but the continued gate closures may cause some delays for fans entering Crisler Center for the 2011-2012 season.
Crisler Center is part of a great sports complex which includes iconic Michigan Stadium, and the wonderful Yost Arena. A trip to a Michigan basketball game seems to be getting better each year, and the renovations should only help to aid the rise of this venue as a top-notch facility for Big Ten, and college basketball fans.
Renovations for the 2011-2012 season look good. I am excited to make another trip back when they're playing a Big Ten opponent. The crowd just doesn't get as into it when you're playing Arkansas-Pine Bluff, although the student section is steadily becoming a force...
This is great place to take the family for a game. And personally I am a big fan of the roasted almonds that you can get here. Parking is easy at nearby pioneer highschool.
Come to Crisler Center for a fabulous Michigan basketball game. Whether it's the spartans or the Fighting Irish, each game is always terrific. The renovations included an all new concourse, an M-Den branch, a kids room, new concession stands, escalators and 2 water walls with the block "M". Even the bowl is renovated. The Massive center-hung HD scoreboard is super, the sound system is incredible. The food is great, the atmosphere is fun and loud, it's cheap, what else can I say, I just love going there, and you will too.
Very nice, waterfall inside. New scoreboard, Nice new seats.
For a college basketball venue after the renovation, this has to be one of the top.
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