Detroit's Ford Field to Host MAC Football Championship Game
East and West Division champions to square off on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
Aug. 26, 2004
DETROIT, Mich. - Ford Field, site of the 2006 Super Bowl, the 2009 NCAA Men's Final Four and the home of the Motor City Bowl, will now host the Mid-American Conference Football Championship game for the 2004 through 2006 seasons. The announcement was made today in a press conference at Ford Field.
The MAC Championship game has featured a nationally-ranked team on four occasions and in 2003 had two ranked teams (No. 14 Miami and No. 23 Bowling Green) face each other. The MAC, along with the Big 12 and SEC, are the only leagues currently sponsoring a championship football game. A total of 27 players on current NFL rosters have appeared in the MAC Championship game, including Randy Moss (Vikings), Chad Pennington, (Jets), Chester Taylor, (Ravens), Byron Leftwich (Jaguars) and Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers). Of the 44 total MAC NFL draft picks since the title game was started in 1997, 17 have played in the MAC Championship game.
"This is another signature announcement for the Mid-American Conference", said John Peters, President of Northern Illinois University and chair of the MAC Council of Presidents. "Our move of the MAC Football Championship game to the premier sporting venue in the country -- in the heart of our geographic footprint -- is a natural next step in the continued growth of the MAC. We couldn't be more excited."
"We are thrilled to help bring the MAC Championship game to the City of Detroit," said Dave Glazier, Vice President of Business Development and Sales for the Detroit Lions and Ford Field. "With the recent surge in success of MAC football programs and players, we have the opportunity to showcase a great competition between two highly talented teams to thousands of college football fans in the State of Michigan and in the Midwest region."
"The opportunity to partner with Ford Field on our showcase event represents another landmark day for the MAC." said MAC Commissioner Rick Chryst. "The continued growth of our championship game mirrors the significant growth of MAC football in general, and gives our student-athletes, coaches and fans one of the great stages in the country on which to compete and perform. We look forward to working with all those connected with the MAC to build this event into a foundational part of the Detroit sports calendar."
Last year's rating of 1.4 on ESPN2 was among the network's top 10 college football broadcasts for the 2003 season. The game ranked No. 9 out of 50 regular season broadcasts on ESPN2. The MAC Championship game has a strong history of national appeal as evidenced by recent television ratings. In 1999 the MAC Championship game televised on ESPN2 received a 2.01 rating, which at the time was the highest rated college game on ESPN2. The 2000 game was beamed nationwide on ABC and grabbed a 2.3 rating.
"The MAC title game has been a staple of ESPN's postseason football schedule and we're excited to once again have it as our last Thursday night college football game this year", said Dave Brown, ESPN Director of Programming and Acquisitions. "Ford Field is an incredible venue and we've had a tremendous experience there the past two years through our relationship with the Motor City Bowl."
The 2003 MAC football campaign went into the recordbook as the best in league history. The league had five wins over nationally ranked teams, two teams ranked in the Top 25 of both major polls, two first round draft picks for the first time in league history and two bowl wins for the second time in the last three years. In addition, the Northern Illinois at Bowling Green game on Oct. 25 was the first-ever nationally televised Saturday contest on a MAC campus and attracted ESPN GameDay to the BG campus. As well, the NIU-BG encounter was the first matchup between two ranked MAC teams since 1973. The MAC is the only non-BCS league to have two teams ranked in the Top 25 at season's end and has done so twice (2001 and 2003).
The MAC geography also fits well with the Detroit location. Nine MAC institutions are within a five-hour drive of the Motor City. The proximity of MAC fans helped boost last year's Motor City Bowl attendance to a MCB record 51,286 as Bowling Green defeated Big Ten foe Northwestern.
The 2004 MAC Championship game, the eighth in league history, is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7:00 (EST) and will be televised live on ESPN as the divisional champions will square off.
The league has also been associated with the Motor City Bowl since the bowl's inception in 1997. In 2002 the Motor City Bowl moved to Ford Field from the Silverdome in Pontiac. This year Eastern Michigan will play Central Michigan at Ford Field on Nov. 6 as part of the Collegiate Clash that also features a game between Wayne State and Hillsdale College.