"Battle At The Ballpark" Proves Successful

The "Battle At The Ballpark" was played at Fifth Third Ballpark (Photo courtesy West Michigan Whitecaps)
The "Battle At The Ballpark" was played at Fifth Third Ballpark (Photo courtesy West Michigan Whitecaps)

Big Rapids, Mich. – Ferris State University’s recent “Battle At The Ballpark” gridiron contest played at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park proved to be a successful fundraising event for the Bulldog Football program.

The Bulldogs raised $19,189.50 from the Oct. 3 game against Michigan Tech, which was co-hosted by FSU Athletics and Minor League Baseball’s West Michigan Whitecaps. The total is roughly 77% of the approximate $25,000 the Bulldogs received in revenue from five other home games this fall at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, including a visit from longtime rival and then nationally top-ranked Grand Valley State.

The funds raised from the “Battle At The Ballpark” will go directly to the football program and be utilized to help offset the operating costs of maintaining a competitive Division II football program and provide additional opportunities for student-athletes.

"The financial gain from this game will dramatically assist our football program in their fund-raising efforts," said FSU Athletics Director Tom Kirinovic. "As importantly, the ability for Ferris State to connect with a number of potential constituents in the Grand Rapids market was greatly enhanced by holding the game.

"So, all and all, this effort was very positive and worthwhile for our department and the university," he added.

Revenue from the game was generated on tickets sales, concessions, sponsorships, suite rentals, parking and merchandise efforts.

"From an institutional marketing and financial standpoint, this was a success," said FSU Associate AD Jon Coles. "We enjoyed our partnership with the Whitecaps organization and look forward to continuing that relationship in the future."

FSU served as the home team for the GLIAC contest and planning began nearly a year ago. A number of special pregame activities took place in conjunction with the contest such as a bean bag toss tournament, tailgating, free health screenings and various youth events.

The event also featured things such as a cheerleading clinic, a halftime performance from the well-known MTU Pep Band, the national anthem performed by Big Rapids Middle School students and a simulated virtual station supplied by the U.S. Army. Both the Ferris and Michigan Tech Alumni Associations held special receptions in conjunction with the game with the event also being supported significantly by the FSU Gridiron Club.

"We enjoyed having the game in their facility and it was a great venue to play in," FSU head coach Jeff Pierce said. "I thought it was a great idea for our program and successful in the end.

"We appreciate all the support from our fans and hopefully it is something we might look to do again in the future if the situation is right," Pierce added.

Fifth Third Ballpark, which was originally known as Old Kent Park, opened in April of 1994 and has a total seating capacity of 10,071 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.

While Fifth Third Ballpark is primarily used for minor league baseball games, the venue has played host to a multitude of other events in recent years, including concerts, high school and college baseball games along with carnivals. The Ferris-Michigan Tech game was the second college football game to be played at Fifth Third Ballpark following the "Fall Classic" in 2007 when Grand Valley State defeated Wayne State in another GLIAC matchup.