Sept. 1, 2010
When the gates of the renovated Michigan Stadium open (Sept. 4), Michigan fans may hear some interesting new chatter. Thanks to the vision of former Athletic Director Bill Martin, "Meet me at Gogebic" and other Michigan counties could be as common as "Go Blue!"
During the stadium renovations, Martin had an idea to add a special feature that embraced the entire state of Michigan. The university installed individual engraved plaques along the perimeter of the stadium's concourse that carry the names of all 83 Michigan counties.
"We wanted to express our appreciation to the people of the state of Michigan for founding the university, for the many years of state support, and to recognize the 83 counties because we get students from all 83 counties," said Martin. "We also realized that they'll be nice places to meet with your friends and relatives."
The 83 plaques are situated alphabetically around the stadium concourse from Alcona to Wexford.
Martin added that the university has long benefited from the generations of Michigan residents who in every corner of the state have supported the University of Michigan's growth and service.
"Students from all over the state have attended the university and our alumni are well represented from the northern counties of the Upper Peninsula to the counties that border Ohio and Indiana."
Martin also said he hoped the county plaques might instill more of a "sense of pride and ownership" across every part of the state.
The names of Michigan's 83 counties reflect the state's Native American, French, British and early American heritage. In 1829, the legislature set off 12 new counties, naming eight of them for President Andrew Jackson and members of his cabinet: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham and Van Buren.
In 1840, the legislature changed the names of 16 counties and gave five counties names from Ireland: Antrim, Clare, Emmet, Roscommon and Wexford.
The university will honor all Michigan counties with a "Tribute to Michigan Day" in Michigan Stadium during the Michigan-Bowling Green game. Invitations have been extended to all county governments inviting a representative to attend the special tribute day.
"Now and moving forward, when Michiganians come from all over the state to gather at the stadium, they will not only feel the historic sense of community but they will recognize a little piece of home in Michigan Stadium," said Martin.
For more information about the stadium renovation, please visit the Michigan Stadium Project page.
U-M Communications: Kim Broekhuizen (734) 936-5190
U-M Football Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423