Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ann Arbor has the Wolverines, need for spring pro team isn’t there

There are few fan bases in college football bigger or more rabid than that for the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the home of the university and the Wolverine football program, a college football staple since 1879. Michigan Stadium’s current capacity is 109,901, and the Wolverines averaged an NCAA-record 112,252 fans per game in 2012 – breaking their own record from 2011 (112,179).

In fact, Michigan has led NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools in average home attendance for 15 consecutive seasons.

How much do Wolverine fans love their football team? They drew nearly 18,000 fans on a cold and snowy mid-April afternoon for the annual Mott Spring Game.

However, for as much as Ann Arbor-based – and nearby city-based – Wolverine fans love “The Big House,” it doesn’t seem like a good fit for a new spring outdoor alternative professional football league team. At no time has Ann Arbor ever had an outdoor pro football team, nor has the desire ever seemed to have been there.

In addition, with a much-bigger market in Detroit just 45 minutes away (Ann Arbor isn’t listed on the Nielsen television market list -, the more desirable choice in Michigan for a new spring outdoor alternative pro football league team would be the Motor City, not a city a sixth of Detroit’s size.

BOTTOM LINE – It’s unlikely the Wolverines will fall out of the No. 1 spot in terms of Division I average home attendance any time soon. But it also is just as unlikely Ann Arbor would be the home of a Michigan-based spring outdoor alternative pro football league team any time soon.

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