Imagine 110,000 blood thirsty college football fans filling downtown Detroit bars, restaurants and hotels to watch the annual Michigan-Michigan State football game.
It could happen.
The problem is only about half of them could see the game at Ford Field.
The rest would have to watch on television at the Brakeman, Harry’s Detroit and the Detroiter. I am all for piling as many people downtown for a good football party. Besides, neutral site games are not uncommon in college football.
Georgia-Florida is staged during the World’s Largest Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, which has turned into a week-long celebration.
The Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma is played in Dallas, which is about halfway between the campuses in Austin and Norman. Illinois gave up three home dates to play Northwestern at Chicago’s Soldier Field, a spot where Notre Dame invades on occasion.
Michigan-Michigan State at Ford Field?
No, thank you. This is one game that is better off in Ann Arbor and East Lansing. More people can attend the game. And there is more electricity on campus than can ever be generated at Ford Field.
It could work if we could convince Wolverines and Spartans to party together for a week downtown, as they do in Jacksonville. That’s not likely to happen, so let’s put the stops on this game.
Students and fans put on the best tailgate in the state in Ann Arbor. The folks at MSU are not far behind. These special moments should remain. The Michigan golf course is electric, as is the parking lot at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School across the street from Michigan Stadium.
The walk to the stadium from downtown Ann Arbor is short and brisk. Along the way you can stop in some of the finest restaurants, coffee shops and bars around.
East Lansing has lost some of its luster because campus police have cracked down on where and when you can tailgate. Still, if you can find a spot near Munn Arena, the tennis courts or the International Center, consider yourself lucky.
Kickoff in an outdoor stadium is special. The noise of the crowd, the anticipation, the fall leaves all blend into a special afternoon. It’s not the same in a sterile indoor stadium.
There is a slim chance this game could be moved to Ford Field. But we should fight like hell to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Photo:© David Reginek-USA TODAY Sport