July 9, 2009

Ferris To Play At Fifth Third Ballpark In 2009

COMSTOCK PARK, MICH. - The Ferris State University football team will have a special opportunity this coming fall as the Bulldogs will take on the Michigan Tech Huskies in the "Battle At The Ballpark", which will take place at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Mich.

The game will be on Saturday, Oct. 3, under the lights with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (EDT) on the home field of Minor League Baseball's West Michigan Whitecaps. The announcement was made today (Jan. 21) through a joint partnership between FSU Athletics and the Whitecaps.

Ferris State will be the home team for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tilt. FSU finished the 2008 football season with a 6-5 record, while Michigan Tech finished 8-3 overall and narrowly missed an NCAA Division II playoff berth. MTU beat Ferris State 21-7 in their one head-to-head battle during the 2008 campaign.

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 will be 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. The ballpark also hosted two high school football games in 2008.

Matt Costello, Whitecaps director of ballpark events, said the green light has been given for more football games at the ballpark after the first three games showed minimal wear and tear to the playing surface.

"The field held up just fine after last year's two high school games and we're excited to be able to open up our doors to even more football games," Costello said. "The GLIAC matchups, particularly this one between Ferris State and Michigan Tech, are especially appealing because of the large alumni bases from both colleges that live in the Grand Rapids area. This is quality Division II football and we are proud to be host to this game."

All seats will be reserved. Tickets will go on sale at a later date with prices to be announced.

Proceeds from the fundraising game will help generate additional revenue for the Ferris State football program, which will also play five additional home games in 2009 at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids.

"We're excited about the opportunity to showcase Division II football in an outstanding facility such as Fifth Third Ballpark while helping our program at the same time," said Ferris head football coach Jeff Pierce. "It will be a great environment for the fans and feature good competition between Ferris and Michigan Tech while highlighting the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference."

Rob Bentley, Ferris State's Associate Athletics Communications Director/football SID, said he expects a big crowd at Fifth Third Ballpark for the "Battle At The Ballpark".

"Playing this game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be a unique experience," Bentley said. "It will be great for our football program and for our fans. We have a lot of alumni in the Grand Rapids area, and I know Michigan Tech does as well, so I expect to see a great crowd at this game. It's always a competitive game when Ferris State plays Michigan Tech."

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.

The Bulldogs registered their fifth winning season in the last six years with a 6-5 overall record in 2008. It represented the program's ninth winning campaign in 14 years under Pierce and marks the 14th time in the last 20 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action.

MTU holds a 31-23-4 all-time series' edge over Ferris and has won the last six meetings between the two teams heading into the 2009 campaign. Michigan Tech finished 2008 in third place in the GLIAC standings with a 7-3 league record under head coach Tom Kearly. The Huskies' 8-3 overall mark represented just the third eight-win season at Tech since 1974.

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