1967 : Crisler Arena Hosts 1st Basketball Game

December 2, 2018 all-day

Crisler Arena — now known as Crisler Center with the addition of the William Davidson Player Development Center — has been the location for Michigan athletic events for 45 years. The men’s basketball team has called Crisler its home since the arena opened in December 1967, and the women’s basketball team has used the arena since its inaugural season as a varsity sport in 1973-74. U-M wrestling and gymnastics have also called it home, while a multitude of campus events and concerts have been held at the facility over the years.

Two years in the making at a cost of $7.2 million, the arena is a tribute to Herbert O. “Fritz” Crisler and his many contributions to Michigan Athletics. Michigan’s football coach from 1938-47, Crisler served 27 years as the Michigan athletic director before retiring in 1968.

Dan Dworsky, a linebacker on Crisler’s undefeated 1947 (and 1948) football team, was one of two architects involved in the construction and was tasked with the design, preliminary drawings and selection of materials. The building stands at 107 feet with telescopic seating encircling the arena floor with an original seating capacity of 13,684.

Crisler Center is affectionately known as “The House that Cazzie Built,” a reference to player Cazzie Russell, who starred on Michigan teams that won three consecutive Big Ten Conference titles from 1964 to 1966. Russell’s popularity caused the team’s fan base to outgrow Yost Fieldhouse (now Yost Ice Arena) and prompted the construction of the current facility.  Michigan hosted Kentucky on Dec. 2, 1967, for the first event held in Crisler Arena, which was formally dedicated on Feb. 27, 1968. On Dec. 11, 1993, Russell became Michigan’s first basketball player to have his number retired, and the banner commemorating his No. 33 hangs from the arena rafters.


Crisler Center website hosted by the University of Michigan.

Crisler Center wikipedia entry.

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