Motor City Bowl 2006
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on AmericanChronicle.com, Thursday, December 28, 2006
For the second year in a row, I attended the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit with my kids. As a bowl game, it may not measure up to the history and tradition of the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl or the Rose Bowl, but it was still a lot of fun to attend and, for me, it’s a lot closer to home.
This year’s game was played on December 26 between the Central Michigan Chippewas, the Mid-American Conference champion, and the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, the Sun Belt Conference co-champion. The last game CMU played prior to the Motor City Bowl was also at Ford Field. They defeated the Ohio Bobcats 31-10 in the MAC Championship game played there on November 30.
Over the years, the Motor City Bowl has featured such teams as Marshall, Boston College, BYU, Cincinnati, Northwestern and Louisville. The bowl game was first played in 1997 at the Pontiac Silverdome. In 2002, when the NFL Detroit Lions left the Silverdome for Ford Field, the Motor City Bowl moved as well.
I purchased my tickets to the Motor City Bowl back in November as part of a special three-game package that also included the MAC Championship game and another game known as the Collegiate Clash on November 11. All three college football games were played at Ford Field and we had the same seats for each game. The Collegiate Clash featured the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Navy Midshipmen.
The Mid-American Conference also has bowl tie-ins with two other bowl games, the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, AL and the new International Bowl in Toronto. A fourth team from the MAC was also in a bowl game this year. The Northern Illinois Huskies took on the TCU Horned Frogs in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on December 19. TCU won that game 37-7.
This was the first ever bowl game for Middle Tennessee State since they moved up from Division I-AA in 1999. Central Michigan has been in just two previous bowl games, but was looking for their first bowl win. In 1990, CMU lost to San Jose State 48-24 in the California Bowl and in 1994 they lost to UNLV 52-24 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
This was the first time in the 10-year history of the game that a team from the state of Michigan has been in the Motor City Bowl. That’s probably why there was a record crowd on hand for the game. In a stadium that normally holds 65,000 for a Detroit Lions game, this year’s Motor City Bowl had 54,113 fans in attendance. The previous record was 52,552 set in 2004.
As we drove to the game, we got caught in heavy traffic on I-75 just a few miles from Ford Field. It was like a parking lot for about half an hour as we inched our way towards the stadium. We finally arrived at a parking ramp just a few blocks from the stadium about 30 minutes before kickoff. The parking ramp normally charges $40 when there is a Detroit Lions game going on, but for the Motor City Bowl, it only cost us $10 to park there.
It was a brisk evening for our walk to the stadium, but there was no snow on the ground or even in the forecast, something that’s a bit unusual for December in Michigan. Once we got to the stadium, we had to wait in line and were frisked before we could enter, just like at an NFL game.
As it turned out, our seats were on the same side of the stadium as the Central Michigan fans. Maroon and gold mini pom-poms (CMU colors) were waiting for us at our seats. There were a lot of enthusiastic students and alumni all around us and the Central Michigan team did not disappoint the “home” fans. They had a 21-7 lead at halftime and cruised to a 31-14 win.
The Bowl Championship Series bowl games may be getting most of the attention at this time of year, but for the many fans of the Chippewas and the Blue Raiders, this was the biggest game of the season.
Other Football at Ford Field
Besides the 10 Detroit Lions games, the Motor City Bowl, the MAC Championship game and the Collegiate Clash, Ford Field is also home to the Michigan High School Football State Championship games each year. There are a total of eight high school football games played over two days, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.
There is also another college football game that has been played at Ford Field since 2003 and is gaining in popularity, the Detroit Football Classic. The game showcases historically black colleges and universities and serves to help kick off the college football season. The game also includes the marching bands from both schools in a halftime Battle of the Bands competition reminiscent of the movie, “Drumline.” This year’s game was played on September 2 and featured Florida A&M University and Delaware State University.
As you can see, there is a lot more football going on at Ford Field than just the Detroit Lions each year. With lower ticket prices and parking fees, football fans can afford to see a lot of great football action in a world class facility throughout the fall football season.