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Crisler Center

Ann Arbor, MI

Home of the Michigan Wolverines

4.4

4.2

Crisler Center (map it)
333 E Stadium Blvd
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Michigan Wolverines website

Crisler Center website

Year Opened: 1967

Capacity: 13,751

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Go Blue

It wasn’t too long ago that Crisler Arena was a functional, but unexciting and dark college basketball venue located next to a Big House. After $100 million in renovations were completed in 2012, the facility was reborn as the Crisler Center. To help celebrate, the 2012-2013 team, led by Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., took the Wolverines to the National Championship game before falling to Louisville, adding another Final Four banner to hang at home.

Today Crisler is 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.

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 is “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.

4.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The food is decent, albeit a bit on the high side as far as price. Ann Arbor is a great food town, and it's too bad that it isn't reflected in the concessions on offer at Crisler Center. This is a town where you can easily have food from a different continent every night of the week (if you take Sunday off and skip Antarctica). It would be ideal if they took a similar approach to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, and really drew from some of the local culinary landmarks.

That slight critique aside, there is still plenty here to eat if you're hungry. Buzzer Beater Brats has chicken tenders with fries ($10), bratwurst, Polish sausage, and Cajun sausage provided by Johnsonville ($6.50 for each sausage).

The "Travel to Italy" stand has flatbread sandwiches ($9), meatball sub ($8), Italian beef sandwich ($8), and fried cheese ravioli ($6). Meanwhile, "3 Point Steaks" offers a Philly Cheese Steak ($9.50), and walking taco ($7) along with other basics.

Panini are available as well, and come with chips ($9). I tried the Reuben Panini on a recent visit, and it was pre-made and rather cold even long before the game's tip.

Coke products are the pop of choice here. A 32-ounce souvenir soda is $6, while the 24-ounce version is "only" $5. You can get it in a Michigan mug for $10.

Other overpriced basics include French fries ($7), nachos ($7), soft pretzel ($4.50), candy ($4), and popcorn (cleverly called "popped maize" in deference to the team's color) for $5.

Atmosphere    4

Everything looks bright and new inside Crisler Center. The maize & blue have certainly put the emphasis on the maize side of their color scheme. From the shirts of the student section to the background of their concession digital menu boards, there is a vibrancy that helps the venue come alive, and provide some immediate warmth upon escaping the Michigan winter.

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. On your left as you go up the escalator you'll see the new media room where postgame press conferences take place.

Make sure you arrive early and take a full walk around the concourse. If you have kids with you, they will undoubtedly want to visit the Kids Zone. The new trophy displays are also a highlight, with a rotating collection of hardware from various sports. You may see Charles Woodson's Heisman Trophy, and the Little Brown Jug among many others depending on what is there.

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 passages throughout the arena.

Once you make your way to your seat, you'll find average legroom in the blue chairbacks, which are padded and have cup holders throughout.

The four-sided scoreboard (installed prior to the 2011-2012 season) 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. A highlight is when the tuba section comes down to the court and dances around the court to the tune of the William Tell Overture. If the students are on break, you can expect the Michigan Alumni Band to step in and fill the void with aplomb.

Neighborhood    5

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 of that bunch 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. Vellum also has excellent non-traditional American cuisine. 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.

Fans    4

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. Upper level seating for students also stretches up into the 200 level behind the basket nearest the opponent bench. 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. If anything, Michigan needs to expand their student presence, perhaps by wrapping 3/4 of the lower 100 level with this boisterous bunch. It would make Crisler a much tougher venue for visitors to play in if the student section could resemble the Breslin Center's Izzone.

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 and an appearance in the 2013 Final Four and Championship game, but some of it seems to be due to the renovations of the facility.

Access    5

Parking prices have come down, and you can now park for just $10 in most of the university lots surrounding Crisler Center. It is a very reasonable sum, especially on those cold winter nights when you want to be outside as little as possible. 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 look out for parking spaces downtown, and take the first one you come across.

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.

Return on Investment    4

Ticket prices vary based on the opponent. For Big Ten play, you can expect to pay starting anywhere between $15 and $40 for a seat. The marquee games are of course against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, so if you want to see those opponents you will have to buy tickets early or look on the secondary market. The drop in parking costs helps to compensate for the overpriced concessions, and the ticket costs are reasonable, especially given the university has made to provide an outstanding experience for fans.

Extras    5

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. The arena also received LEED Gold certification in June 2013 for its environmentally-conscience renovation.

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.

Final Thoughts

Crisler Center has truly transformed from a very ordinary college basketball arena to one of the best facilities in the country, ranking among our Top 100 stadium experiences of 2013. The "House That Cazzie Built" is more than just the next door neighbor to the iconic Michigan Stadium, it is forging ahead and making Michigan basketball a consistent powerhouse, and a wonderful venue to see college hoops.

A bit of a snoozer?

I have been to three games at Crisler since it was renovated. They were fun, but the atmosphere was nowhere near what I am used to at places like Breslin (MSU), Kohl Center (Wisconsin) and Value City (OSU). The small "Maize Rage" student section does OK, but the rest of the place felt like a mausoleum.

The seats are amazingly comfortable - they are like movie-theater seats - and the lights are dim away from the court - so it is a quieter atmosphere.

The concourse has been widened and brightened on one side, and it is considerably better than the old Crisler --- there is even a waterfall inside. The balance of the concourse is still small with a low ceiling and still feels old. If you enter from the Stadium side you will be disappointed until you walk around the arena to the new side.

We parked in downtown and walked to the Arena for one game --- the walk was long and lonely - and not fun. We do that for U-M football games and it is a lot more fun. In the dark and dead of winter, with un-shoveled sidewalks and cars roaring by on Main Street (and splashing icy puddles of water into the sidewalks) - I suggest you pay the $$ to park at Crisler.

It's a fine arena, but it does NOT deserve such high ratings for Atmosphere and Fans ... five-star scores should be for true five-star performance.

by Walt | Jan 22, 2014 05:47 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Cazzie's House

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

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.

Crisler Arena: Not Exactly A-maize-ing

Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

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.

Crisler Center

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

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.

Renovated

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

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...

Love that I can get roasted almonds here

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

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.

Crisler Center's Amazing

Total Score: 5.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

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.

Greatest College Basketball Arena

Total Score: 4.71

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Very nice, waterfall inside. New scoreboard, Nice new seats.

Renovated Crisler Center

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

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.

One Of The Best

Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

For a college basketball venue after the renovation, this has to be one of the top.

Updated Crisler a perfect B1G!

Total Score: 5.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Get to the game early. Browse around the spacious and beautiful concourses with exhibits that showcase significant events in Michigan athletic history. Get your picture taken by the big block M waterfall. Ride the escalator. Hit up the M-Den for a new maize t-shirt- because I can guarantee you the rest of the crowd will be donned in maize and blue as well.
Find your seat in the beautifully symmetrical arena with terrific sight lines from any seat. Now you're ready to watch one of the greatest college basketball programs in the country take the floor. Go Blue!

Winter Break at Michigan

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 5

Attended the game vs SMU on 12/20. I like that the alumni band steps in and does an awesome job while the students are on break. Food is so overpriced here, and the $10 reuben panini I had had cold meat in the middle, and it was made to order. It wasn't sitting around, they made it in front of me, and the meat was ice cold. Should have skipped teh concessions. Spending $40 or so for popcorn, pretzel, hot dog, candy, a bottle of water, and that cold panini was a big mistake.

Good atmosphere overall. It was nice to see the school award $1,000 to a student who made a lay-up, free throw, three pointer, and half court shot. Originally the said no good on the $10,000 prize because he was on the line for the half court shot (to the ire of the crowd). But later in the day they awarded him a grand as a consolation prize.

My 7 year old son really enjoyed the interactive video screen display for both football and basketball- pretty amazing technology. The kids zone has more distractions for little ones with a hoop to shoot on, places to pose for pictures, and a spot to measure your vertical (or lack thereof) leap.. Overall, I am still amazed by how much better the arena experience has gotten after the renovations.

Parking tip: Park in the university lot off of Hoover (near Hoover and Main St). It is free to park there on weekends with no restrictions. You will be just feet away from a lot that charges $10. Take 30 extra steps and save the cash...

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