The USFL's Coming to Rynearson Stadium
Iverson voice: Not for games, not for games. Practice.
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This is certainly a step in the right direction for Eastern Michigan to further legitimize itself as a brand within the football world. Only time will tell if the USFL’s efforts are worth ushering in a third season in 2024, but as for now, the fact that this league is set to begin a second-straight spring season is pretty big. There’s never a guarantee that patrons will want to get more invested in another spring season, but strong-arming its way into consistent seasons will probably be what it takes to get general sports fans to reflexively tune into its live games.
In the USFL’s first revised season, all teams played out of the same hub in Birmingham, Alabama. Now, the plan for this league is to branch out. For the Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars, those teams will use EMU’s football facilities to hold practices, workouts, and meetings, per the school’s press release Thursday morning.
"We are very appreciative to the USFL for deciding to make Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw County its home for the 2023 season," said EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. "This is a tremendous moment for our community, the University, and our athletic department to partner with the USFL to host the Michigan Panthers and the Philadelphia Stars. Having the opportunity for professional players and coaches to utilize our facilities is a testament to how far we have come as a football program over the last decade. This is a win-win for everyone and I am hopeful that this can become a long-term relationship."
This is the second time Ypsilanti and Eastern Michigan's campus has been tabbed as a venue for a professional football franchise. In 1974, the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League (WFL) operated out of Rynearson Stadium.
"The USFL is appreciative of the tremendous support from Eastern Michigan University, our partners in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and across southeast Michigan, and countless other community and sports leaders in Detroit and around the region for bringing the USFL back to the state of Michigan," said Doug West, USFL Senior Director of Football Operations in Michigan. "This state has a rich tradition of being fanatic about football, and the USFL has come home to Michigan because fans here share our passion to celebrate football as much as we do."
Practices won’t be open to the public, but it’ll be pretty inexpensive to watch some former EMU players just down I-94.
The press release states that single-game tickets run as low as $10, season tickets start at $25, and premium club midfield seats will run you just $100. Looks pretty reasonable to me!
Linebacker Terry Myrick and offensive lineman Ka’Jon Armstrong are both with the Panthers, and first-year tight end Gunnar Oakes was drafted by the team in the seventh round of the league’s recent college draft.
Michigan drafted Sidy Sow in the 10th round, and Philadelphia drafted Jose Ramirez in the sixth round, but both players passed on their USFL opportunities to chase their NFL dreams.
Today marks the first day of training camps for both teams, but neither will be at Rynearson Stadium until Monday. Camp will close on April 8, and the season begins April 15. The first of nine games played at Ford Field begin April 30.