Big Rapids, Mich. - One of the nation's top NCAA Division II football programs, the Ferris State University Bulldogs, will take its show on the road as FSU will square off against the Michigan Tech Huskies on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park.
The Bulldogs and the Huskies will clash at the home field of Minor League Baseball's West Michigan Whitecaps with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) kickoff set for 2 p.m. (ET). The announcement was made today through a joint partnership between FSU Athletics and the Whitecaps.
"We're excited about the opportunity to showcase our program in front of so many fans, alumni and supporters in the Grand Rapids area and across West Michigan," said FSU head coach Tony Annese. "We have a ton of respect for Michigan Tech and expect this game to be highly-competitive, which will make for an entertaining contest for the fans in a great venue."
While Fifth Third Ballpark is primarily used for Minor League Baseball games involving the Detroit Tigers' Class A Affiliate, the venue has played host to a multitude of other events over the years, including concerts, high school and college baseball games along with festivals. It ranks as West Michigan's largest outdoor stadium.
Ferris State and Michigan Tech previously met at Fifth Third Ballpark back in 2009 and this year's game will be the third college football contest to be played in the facility, but the first since the '09 showdown. The ballpark has also hosted prep football games the past several years.
Proceeds from the fundraising game will help generate additional revenue for the Ferris State football program, which will also play five additional home games this fall at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids.
"We're appreciative to both the West Michigan Whitecaps and Michigan Tech University for their support of this contest," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "Both Ferris State and Michigan Tech have strong alumni bases in West Michigan and we expect this game to be a big draw between two outstanding programs with a great atmosphere in a premier location.
"The fact we had six home games scheduled this fall for the first time in several years, including the first two at home, gives us the opportunity to take a game to a wonderful venue like Fifth Third Ballpark and hold a special event while also still allowing for five home games on our own campus in Big Rapids," he added.
Fifth Third Ballpark, which was originally known as Old Kent Park, opened in April of 1994 and has a total seating capacity of nearly 9,000 in a variety of formats, including box seats, luxury suites, deck/patio areas and lawn/standing room locations. The ballpark is one of the only professional baseball stadiums in the country to be constructed strictly with private funds and without taxpayer dollars.
"We are excited for the opportunity to host these two great football programs and look forward to providing a unique and memorable experience," said Whitecaps Facility Events Manager Mike Klint. "The ballpark offers a great location and amenities for these two schools to reconnect with their alumni in a fun, family friendly atmosphere."
Over the years, the Ferris State and Michigan Tech gridiron series has been one of the GLIAC's best. The Huskies lead the all-time series 34-29-4, but the Bulldogs are on a current six-game winning streak during the Tony Annese era. FSU pulled out a thrilling 30-28 victory at MTU's Sherman Field in Houghton two years ago before handling the Huskies in the regular-season finale on a snowy field last year in the Upper Peninsula.
Tickets for the event will go on sale Monday, July 16, at 10 a.m. (ET). Additional information regarding ticket prices, suite availability, tailgating, alumni events and more will be announced in the near future.
The special showdown continues a strong partnership between the Bulldogs and the Whitecaps. In addition to this fall's game, Ferris State Football will hold its second annual FSU Family, Friends and Alumni night at the Ballpark on July 12 with Bulldog men's basketball head coach Andy Bronkema, who led FSU to its first NCAA Division II National Championship this past season, slated to throw out the first pitch.
In addition, for the second consecutive year, Ferris State will also partner with Whitecaps Community Foundation for a free youth clinic in Grand Rapids for kids ages 6-14 the same afternoon.
The Bulldogs will begin their 110th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. FSU has made back-to-back NCAA Division II National Quarterfinal appearances and is one of only five teams in all of college football to win at least 11 games each of the past four years. The Bulldogs along with Northwest Missouri State are the only programs in Division II football to make the playoffs each of the past four seasons.
In six seasons under Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 60-14 overall mark in the last six years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the GLIAC since his arrival. Last summer, Hero Sports picked FSU as Michigan's Best College Football program regardless of division.
Ferris State will return nearly 50 letterwinners for the 2018 campaign.
What They Are Saying About The Game At Fifth Third Ballpark!
"The West Michigan Sports Commission promotes events of all types and caliber for the betterment of our community, but we could not be more excited to welcome a football game between two in-state rivals within the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Ferris State is coming off a strong season having made it to the NCAA DII playoffs and Michigan Tech always brings a tough matchup for conference play. The setting at Fifth Third Ballpark will be perfect for some great fall college football." - Mike Guswiler, President of West Michigan Sports Commission
"This is an outstanding opportunity to showcase Michigan Tech University and the football program to our fans and alumni at Fifth Third Ballpark. The chance to play in a first class facility against a quality football program like Ferris State will create an exciting game day experience for both our players and supporters of Tech football." - Suzanne Sanregret, Athletic Director, Michigan Tech University
"Bulldog Football hosting Michigan Tech at Fifth Third Ballpark on October 6 is a great opportunity on many levels for Ferris State University. It's an excellent location for our alumni, a large population of whom live in West Michigan, to come out and see our championship-contending team in action against a great conference opponent. It is also a wonderful opportunity for students and their families considering attending Ferris to come out and experience first-hand what it means to Be a Bulldog, Be a Champion as part of the Ferris State family." - Jeremy Mishler, Associate vice President for External Relations, Ferris State University
"We are excited to bring our football team down to play at this venue against a very good Ferris State Football program. Playing at Fifth Third Ballpark will be a unique experience for our players and should help us to connect with alumni in the area." - Steve Olson, Head Football Coach, Michigan Tech University
"Our team looks forward to this great opportunity to face Michigan Tech in a first-class venue. The Whitecaps have been a tremendous partner for Bulldog Football and we look forward to competing against the Huskies on their field. This game will also coincide with our football alumni day and we encourage all former Bulldog players to make plans to attend this great event." - Dan Rohn, Assistant Head Football Coach, Ferris State University