ANN ARBOR — The Big House is about to get a lot brighter.
The University of Michigan has decided to spend $1.8 million to add permanent lights at the venerable stadium. The school's board of regents approved the project Thursday that was recommended by athletic director Dave Brandon and executive vice president Timothy Slottow.
“It's going to be better for our fans in the stadium and those watching the broadcast,” Brandon said. “It'll lead to less wear and tear on our newly renovated stadium and over time, it will be a financially good decision too.”
Brandon said the HD-quality lights will perfectly illuminate Michigan's hockey game against Michigan State this winter and next year's nighttime football game against Notre Dame.
The school has been using temporary lights at football games that ended after dusk.
The new lights are expected to be in place before the Wolverines play the Spartans on Dec. 11 in what is being billed as the “Big Chill at the Big House.”
Last year, school officials proudly showed off a $226 million renovation that added luxury suites and club seats.
The work boosted the number of seats and this season a football attendance record of 113,090 was set in the game against Connecticut.
The previous mark was 112,118 — also at Michigan Stadium — in 2003, the last time the Wolverines beat rival Ohio State.
Michigan Stadium will host its first night game on Sept. 10, 2011, but Brandon said kicking off in prime time may not be part of the school's plan in the future for football games.
“We really wanted to use this as a test game,” he said. “We've made no commitments to playing at night beyond playing one next season.”