Forty years after the Michigan Panthers won the inaugural United States Football League (USFL) championship while playing in the Pontiac Silverdome, they are returning to the Great Lakes State — Ford Field in Detroit — for the coming season, which begins in April.
The long-rumored news that the Panthers and the Philadelphia Stars would play in Detroit was made official this morning during a press conference at Ford Field with league, team, city, and Fox Sports network officials. Fox Sports own the USFL.
“We’re back,” says Daryl Johnston, executive vice president of Football Operations for the USFL. “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, which has an incredible passion for football.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who says he remembers the excitement generated by the original Michigan Panthers, says: “Detroit football fans weren’t ready for football to be over and now we have more football coming in April. It’s a great day for the city of Detroit and to the Michigan Panthers, welcome home.”
The USFL was reimagined last spring with all teams playing in Birmingham, Ala. as a cost-saving measure. All eight teams were expected to play in their respective cities this season, but the league decided to create four hubs with two teams sharing each stadium. Birmingham, Memphis, Tenn.; and Canton, Ohio are the other three hubs.
Teams representing Birmingham and New Orleans will be in Alabama. Memphis and Houston’s squads will operate out of Tennessee. Pittsburgh and New Jersey’s teams will play home games in Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Training camp for the Panthers and Stars will take place on the gray turf at Eastern Michigan’s Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti. EMU was an early candidate to host the USFL games. Most players are expected to stay at The Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor during training camp.
Both teams will start their season with road games before playing their first games in Detroit April 30. The USFL regular season runs from mid-April through June, with the postseason slated for July.
“We’re excited to deliver high-quality and competitive professional spring football to fans all across the country who crave more football,” says Johnston. “The USFL proved itself to be a stable league run by experienced football leaders who provide a fan-friendly, fun, and affordable stadium experience while being a catalyst for the evolution of football through innovative rules.”
The Panthers finished third in the USFL North Division in 2022 with a 2-8 record.
For more information and ticket sales, visit theusfl.com.