For the first time since 1984, the USFL will play games in the state of Michigan.
Starting this spring, Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, will host the USFL’s Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars during the 2023 USFL season. The Panthers will open up the home slate on April 30.
The league made the announcement in a news conference at Ford Field on Thursday morning.
“We’re back!” Daryl Johnston, USFL executive vice president of football operations said in a statement.
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“With the help of some great partners, the USFL is making history by announcing that the Michigan Panthers have returned home in 2023 to play at Ford Field. The USFL is proud to be part of the revitalization of downtown Detroit, and we’re excited about turning up the Motown music and firing up a fan base for professional spring football in Michigan.
The USFL returned to the sports scene last year but all of the regular-season games were played in Birmingham, Alabama, with the semifinals and finals played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
The last time the USFL was played in the state of Michigan, the Panthers played at the Pontiac Silverdome, also home to the Lions at the time.
For the Panthers, they hope to put on a much better show for the home fans than last season’s display in Alabama. The Panthers, under head coach Jeff Fisher, finished third in the four-team North Division. Meanwhile, the Stars, coached by Bart Andrus, reached the inaugural USFL championship before losing to the Birmingham Stallions.
The Panthers and Stars will arrive in metro Detroit region in mid-March for the start of training camp. When the 10-week USFL regular season begins April 15, both teams will start on the road before coming to Ford Field on April 30 in the first of several weekends of pro football.
The new season brings another draft in which the Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row. The Panthers selected former Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson with the No. 1 pick. (It didn’t quite work out, as Patterson was released mid-season and landed as the backup QB with the USFL’s New Orleans franchise.)
Once again, the league will have games broadcast on two networks, Fox and NBC.
Detroit will be one of four hubs for the league this season. The others are Birmingham, Canton and Memphis, Tennessee.