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Detroit sports teams to be on Michigan license plates

Nolan Ryan
The Detroit News
The Detroit Tigers tweeted this photo of possible license plate design displaying pride in Detroit's pro sports teams (NOTE: License plate designs are artist renderings and may not represent the actual plates approved by the State of Michigan)

Michigan drivers will soon be able to purchase specialized license plates featuring Detroit's professional sports teams, and some of the funds from the plates will go to charity, under a bill signed last week by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The new license plates will feature designs from the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings, as well as Michigan International Speedway. Some of the funds will be transferred to the Detroit Tigers Foundation, the Come Together Foundation, the Detroit Lions Charities and the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, depending on the special plate purchased.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who introduced SB 178 in February 2017, said a couple of the teams' foundations reached out to him through contacts in Lansing. Their hopes, he said, were to give fans more options to champion their favorite Detroit teams, as well as to raise money for charity.

"It's a great opportunity to show support for our professional teams," he said. "And the dollars will go to the foundations."

Each foundation will be able to decide how to disperse the money among its supported charities, according to Stamas.

Drivers who purchase the new fundraising license plates will be charged an initial fee of $35. Of that amount, $10 will go to the Secretary of State's office for processing the plate, while $25 will go to the chosen team's foundation. There will be a $10 renewal fee for the license plates, all of which will go to the foundations.

The Michigan Secretary of State's office will be working closely with the teams and their foundations, said James Fackler, director of the Office of Program Support and Development. The Secretary of State is required to prepare a system for the new plates by August 2019.

"We're thankful they gave us over a year to get it done," Fackler said, noting that after November's election. there will be a new Secretary of State to replace Ruth Johnson, who is term-limited.

Each team will create its own logo for the plates, meeting specifications provided by the Secretary of State's office. While the Secretary of State has the final say, Fackler does not anticipate any disagreement over designs.

Unlike other states, he says, Michigan is not required to make any quota of pre-sales on new license plates. Because of that, there is no way to tell how well the plates will fare with drivers.

"Some do well, and some don't do really well," Fackler said of license plates with sports designs.

The Secretary of State offers 15 fundraising license plates for Michigan colleges, as well as 14 for special causes.