September 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Terry Foster

Wayne State football going under the lights - in hopes of sellout crowd

Wayne State officials anticipate Tom Adams Field's main stand to be to filled to capacity for tonight's game as it was for this Prep Kickoff Classic contest between Southfield and Detroit Martin Luther King high schools in August 2012. (Ricardo Thomas / Detroit News)

Detroit — Wayne State doesn’t have a 100,000-seat stadium and a national television audience to tell its story.

It has a 6,100-seat stadium and a local television audience to tell its story.

That story is about to become intriguing as Wayne State plays its first home night game at Tom Adams Field at 6 tonight against Ashland, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference defending champion.

“This is another way to turn on the lights, not just on our football game but to show our fans what is going on with our university,” Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier said.

Wayne State’s last night home game was Sept. 24, 1966, an 8 p.m. kickoff at the University of Detroit Stadium.

Tonight’s game, live on Comcast 900, is expected to draw a sellout crowd.

“We are telling our story to a quarter-million alumni,” Fournier said. “We are telling our story to 30,000 students. We are not just telling our story about the athletic program, but we are telling our story about the entire university. We are talking about what we do as a school and an institution. We are talking about our uniqueness in the city.

“This (night game) is a vehicle to illuminate this message.”

Plan in place

Wayne State officials got this ball rolling when they purchased lights to host the annual Prep Kickoff Classic.

It all came together when the Detroit Sports Commission agreed to host the Classic at Wayne State for a minimum of 10 years.

“It is a benefit to them and for us to have lights,” said Dave Beachnau, executive director of the Detroit Sports Commission. “We have a long-term deal in place but we don’t have any plans to move anyway.”

Good atmosphere

Tonight should be electric.

Fans will be given glow sticks, and many of the other Wayne State teams will be introduced.

And the football players? They’ll be pumped up, too.

“We really wanted to use (the lights) and the atmosphere to have a pretty electric night of football,” coach Paul Winters said. “With the University of Michigan and Michigan State playing games in the afternoon, it gives our crowd an opportunity to do something after those games.

“We’ve got our lights and the game so let’s have some fun with it.”
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