MAC signs three-year extension to keep football title game at Ford Field

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Mid-American Conference took its preseason media tour to Cleveland this year.

But the MAC will continue to close the curtains on its season in downtown Detroit, announcing Tuesday a three-year extension to continue playing its football championship game at Ford Field.

The extension includes this year's game, and the 2023 and 2024 games.

Doug Coston and Miami (Ohio) celebrate their MAC championship win over Central Michigan in 2019.

“Ford Field and the city of Detroit have been outstanding hosts for our football championship game," MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher announced at MAC media day Tuesday morning at the House of Blues in Cleveland. "The facility is among the best in the country and provides our student-athletes and fans with a premiere championship experience.”

The MAC noted it's the only non-autonomous FBS conference to sustain a title game at a neutral site.

Financial terms of the deal weren't publicly disclosed.

The MAC began playing its football championship game at Ford Field in 2004, and also played the first college football game at Ford Field, when Toledo faced Boston College in the 2002 Motor City Bowl.

This year's MAC championship game, pitting the winners of the East and West divisions, will be played Saturday, Dec. 3, at noon, and will be aired on ESPN.

The MAC championship game has drawn as many as 45,615 fans (2016, Western Michigan vs. Ohio), and as few as 10,255 (2018, Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo). Obviously, games involving the state MAC schools typically draw better than average. The game drew better early in its run, too.

Detroit and the Detroit Sports Commission has been lobbying hard in recent years to land the Big Ten football championship game, with the conference showing interest in moving it around. But the Big Ten announced in April that it is keeping the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the foreseeable future.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984