Two football teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) gathering in Motown to play a game, alumni and supporters throwing a few fundraisers for the cause, and a large number of Black folks making an attempt to attend every party they can find.
This year, the fourth annual Ford Detroit Football Classic will pit Florida A&M and Delaware State against one another on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Ford Field. As an added attraction, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will perform in a live concert after the game.
If the past is any indication, Downtown Detroit will be rocking on Friday and Saturday night. The fact that the game occurs during Labor Day weekend almost ensures it.
“It’s kind of like the Super Bowl,” Taylor said.
For sure, the Ford Detroit Football Classic is similar to the Super Bowl. They both can be described as one grand party surrounding a football game.
And Detroit loves a party.
“This classic should be the top classic in the country,” Taylor said. “We came out of the box and everyone was excited. The second and third year attendance was down. But we feel that bringing FAMU back will boost attendance. Not only that, but for one ticket, where can you see a game, a ‘Battle of the Bands’ and Frankie Beverly and Maze? That’s a great ticket.”
With tickets as low as $20, the Detroit Football Classic is, without a doubt, a “great ticket” – particularly to a game at Ford Field. Heck, the cheapest Lions ticket is twice as much and, more times than not, you’re upset afterwards.
Still, Taylor and Porcher have continued to add to the Detroit Football Classic.
Any concert with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly is a “must-see” deal.
And the “Battle of the Bands”?
Well, witnessing a true live performance is better than watching “Drumline.”
I know, because I only recently discovered this.
In the inaugural Detroit Football Classic in 2003, the FAMU “Marching 100,” which comprises almost 400 musicians, performed a routine simulating an automobile with spinners – a tribute to Detroit being the Motor City.
I was stunned afterwards. I had never seen anything like that.
I’m from Detroit, but I graduated from a Big Ten university. Big Ten schools don’t have marching band members turning in synchronized circles to emulate a spinning wheel – not then, not now.
Heck, man, in the Big Ten, halftime means a rest room break or a trip to the concession stand for another hot dog and brew.
Not at a Black college football game.
During that inaugural Ford Detroit Football Classic on Aug. 30, 2003, I was totally mesmerized – first by the “Marching 100,” and then by fans who happened to be out of their seats as the bands took the field. These fans ran down the Ford Field isles so fast I thought something had happened in the crowd.
Of course, they were in a rush to catch the full production of the “Battle of the Bands.”
Afterwards, when the two bands had completed their numbers, I understood the urgency of the halftime situation.
Now, I’m hooked on the Black college experience, which Porcher noted the Midwest is starving for.
“(We want to) expose our children to Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Porcher said. “Most of the (HBCU) schools are in the South.”
There is only one HBCU school in Detroit. But with the makeup in the city
– Detroit has an African American population of over 80 percent – the Detroit Football Classic is a natural.
Of course, Detroit fans have to get in the game and buy tickets. Not just individuals, either. More corporate sponsors and business partners need to get in the game, too. You know, buy a couple hundred tickets so some needy kids can attend the game who might not ever get a chance to see Ford Field.
“We’re committed to the game,” Taylor said. “We’re committed to the community.”
Of course, commitment is a two-way street.
So, the next time someone says there’s nothing going on in Detroit, let him or her know of the many great things in our town.
Like the Ford Detroit Football Classic.
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