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Spartans enter into football series with other state schools

August 20, 2009

The MSU football team will play 12 games in 10 seasons against Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, including a return trip for MSU to each campus, beginning in 2011, MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis announced today.

The series, called “Celebrate the State,” is designed to help the state of Michigan economically, while energizing alumni of the four schools.

“We’re definitely all winners,” Hollis said. “But the people of Michigan are the big winners.”

MSU will play Central Michigan at Spartan Stadium in 2011, 2015 and 2018 and at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant in 2012. It will be MSU’s first-ever trip to Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

The Spartans will host Eastern Michigan in 2012, 2014 and 2016 with a return date to Rynearson Stadium in either 2018 or 2020. It will be the Spartans first trip to Ypsilanti since 1899.

Finally, MSU will bring Western Michigan to East Lansing in 2013, 2017 and 2019 and travel to Western Michigan’s campus to play the Broncos at Waldo Stadium in 2015. It will be MSU’s first game in Kalamazoo since playing at Kalamazoo College in 1905.

All four athletics directors emphasized how each university would save a lot of money from travel expenses and all the money spent for accommodations would be put back into the state of Michigan.

“Having this game on campus means a lot,” said Eastern Michigan Athletics Director Derrick Gragg, who expects the largest crowd in the history of the program when the Spartans come.

Having MSU return to each campus, instead of having a neutral site game, was a key selling point, said Central Michigan Athletics Director Dave Heeke.

“College football on our campuses are such a huge deal. … We don’t want to minimize that,” he said. “These will be the biggest days in history of our campuses on football Saturday.”

When asked whether Michigan was considered as a part of this series, Hollis would only say he informed U-M Athletics Director Bill Martin about the idea.

“I firmly believe Michigan State is the university of this state,” he said.

Hollis also said head coach Mark Dantonio was involved in the process and supports it.

With MSU continuing a nonconference series against Notre Dame and recently announcing deals with Alabama and West Virginia, the nonconference schedule for MSU seems almost complete for the next decade.

“This is a landmark day for football in this state, a great football state,” Heeke said. “We are certainly appreciative of what Michigan State University has done.”

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