Posted: Tuesday July 18, 2006 10:35PM; Updated: Wednesday July 19, 2006 12:29PM
Many Michigan alumni and professors don't want luxury boxes to ruin the aesthetics of the Big House.
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Frank Deford will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Do you get the feeling that there are really no more stadiums and arenas being built in the United States? Oh, these palaces where sports are played are flying up all over, but what they really seem to be are just a bunch of luxury boxes that happen to be attached to a few hard grandstand seats. The profit in sports comes by selling luxury boxes to expense accounts and swells.
Take me up to the lux'ry box, Take me off from the crowd, Give me some champagne and caviar, I don't care if they even keep score. Let me call, call, call for the waitress, If she won't come, it's a pox, For it's one, two, three kinds of wine At the old lux'ry box.
And, boy -- have you peasants ever been in one? -- are luxury boxes wonderful. Heh, heh, heh. The booze, the fine food, the service, the private, uh, powder rooms. Best of all, especially at a freezing-cold football game, is deigning to glance down upon the poor hoi polloi just outside your luxury box -- their lips blue, their bodies shivering, as they look back at you with wistful, longing eyes, like poor urchins at the window of the pastry shop. It's glorious! Being in a luxury box is better even than not having to pay any estate tax.
Isn't it paradoxical, too? Sports are supposed to be for the masses, yet you will not find luxury boxes at the opera or the ballet. Even when you get a house seat on Broadway, that's all you get: a seat. Just a place to rest your backside. Only in sports do we generally find plush, sumptuous, lavish condominium accommodations.
So can you believe it? There is actually a place in America today where humble citizens are fighting the construction of luxury boxes. Yes, in Ann Arbor, Mich., home of what is called the Big House, the largest stadium in America, many alumni and professors of the University of Michigan are vigorously trying to persuade the Board of Regents not to approve the plans of the university president and athletic director to spend something like a quarter of a billion dollars to build 78 suites that would rent for up to $85,000 apiece for a mere seven college football games.
The Big House is a huge oval, and the luxury boxes, totaling 425,000 square feet, would do great aesthetic violence to the classic old bowl. Since the game-day pieds-à-terre would cost so much to build, it's dubious they can even actually make the university any money -- and that, after all, is the whole purpose of luxury boxes.
So finally, somewhere in the Republic, the lowly common folk have risen up against the sports aristocracy. Let us, with them, give new voice to that great Michigan fight song, Hail to the Victors.
Hail! to the fat cats, dining, Hail! to the privileged gentry Hail, hail to the luxury box, The poshest and the best. Hail! to the nouveau, drinking, Hail! to the high-hat blue bloods, Hail! hail! to the luxury box, The measure of success.