EAST LANSING - In yet another move to boost its profile in the talent rich hotbed of Detroit, Michigan State will play Western Michigan in a neutral site game to be held at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit in 2009.
While not yet officially announced, the game is listed on Michigan State literature as taking place in 2009. The move will give Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio - who has placed a far greater emphasis on recruiting the city than predeccesor John L. Smith - a platform to show off his program in front of what is likely to be a crowd of MSU fans and newly interested observers.
The Spartans have reaped some serious dividends for their efforts to reach out to the Detroit football and educational community.
MSU got verbal commitments from Detroit Renassiance prep stars Chris Norman and Dana Dixon. They are also interested in several other top prospects in Detroit including Thomas Gordon of Detroit Cass Tech, Delano Collins also of Renaissance, Aaron McCord of Crockett Vocational along with Antonio Martin of King and Tevon Conrad of Pershing, both offensive line prospects.
Playing in Detroit could also swing allegiances away from what has been a traditionally University of Michigan fan base, to the Green-and-White.
MSU switched its flagship radio station to Detroit's 50,000-watt powerhouse WJR beginning with the fall of 2006.
The station's signal has been reported by some to be able to reach all the way to the state of Florida on a clear night, but is known for its Midwest roots, giving the Spartans a strong radio presence into football-loving households across the Great Lakes area where they previous never had access.
The switch has many Detroiters tuning in to Spartan football games in the fall. Now with the move to play a neutral site game in the city, MSU is moving to grow its market share at a time where traditional powerhouse Michigan is struggling to make a switch to a different style of football than its fans are accustomed.
Many Michigan fans have been turned off by the ongoing contract squabbles surrounding the hiring of former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez who has been embroiled in controversy ever since his hire in Ann Arbor.
Could the Spartans supplant the Wolverines in the hearts of Detroiters? One thing's for sure, they're giving it their best shot.
Spartan Football to play at Ford Field in '09
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