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Ann Arbor vs. East Lansing, MI – How Do We Compare?

October 17, 2023 Regional Updates

Game 8: Saturday, October 21, 2023 | Michigan vs. Michigan State| Spartan Stadium | 7:30 PM EST

Ann Arbor SPARK’s popular football blog series is back for Michigan’s 144th season! We use the football season as an opportunity to compare Ann Arbor to cities around the country represented by our U-M football competition. The question is always – how does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the U.S.?

This weekend, the coveted Paul Bunyan Trophy and the accompanying bragging rights will be fiercely contested as the spotlight shines brightly on the primetime clash between Michigan and Michigan State. This intense rivalry showdown is set to unfold this Saturday at Spartan Stadium, making it a must-watch event for Michiganders. For them, this game adds an extra layer of tension to their weekend plans, as it marks the first major rivalry showdown of the college football season, effectively dividing households into passionate Maize and Blue or Green and White camps.

Throughout their illustrious history dating back to 1918, these teams have clashed on the gridiron a total of 97 times, with Michigan emerging victorious in 57 of those encounters, thus boasting a formidable 59 percent win rate. Notably, this weekend’s matchup is a historic occasion as it marks only the third night game in the rich history of this fierce rivalry.

What distinguishes this rivalry when comparing the two communities is the fact that both cities, Ann Arbor and East Lansing, are located within the same state. This unique proximity adds both simplicity and complexity to the equation. While certain variables remain constant, others come to the forefront, creating an intricate backdrop that demands a deeper exploration of context this week, more so than usual.

Michigan State is located in East Lansing, a distinct city both statistically and municipally from Lansing, although they share a close connection. Lansing serves as the State Capital, with the state government being the primary local industry, a unique characteristic when compared to other metropolitan areas.

East Lansing is a town of approximately 60,000 residents, while Lansing boasts a population closer to 160,000. Their combined total exceeds that of Ann Arbor, although they are farther from major metropolitan areas like Detroit.

Notably, both Ann Arbor and Lansing/East Lansing rank as the two most educated regions in the state of Michigan. Graduates from both the University of Michigan and Michigan State contribute to Michigan’s claim of having the highest concentration of engineering talent in the nation.

While the football rivalry between Michigan State and the University of Michigan is steeped in tradition and history, it’s essential to recognize the broader benefits of their academic and athletic excellence to all Michiganders. Both institutions are part of the University Research Corridor, which includes Wayne State University, making Michigan an attractive destination for various industries and companies seeking to establish themselves in the state, thereby stimulating economic development.

Examining the state’s workforce, both universities play a pivotal role in nurturing high-quality talent. Surveys conducted by the career services centers at each school reveal that 64 percent of MSU graduates and 35 percent of U-M graduates choose to remain in Michigan after graduation. However, it’s worth noting that this statistic may be influenced by the fact that the University of Michigan attracts a higher number of out-of-state and international students, which could impact the percentage. Additionally, this statistic doesn’t account for alumni who may return to Michigan in subsequent years.

In today’s landscape, with many professions allowing remote work and companies competing globally for talent, it’s crucial to contemplate the educational and post-educational pathways of Michigan’s workforce. This rivalry game, beyond its on-field intensity, serves as a reminder of the valuable contributions both universities make to the state’s intellectual and economic landscape.

Be on the lookout for our blog posts ahead of each game all season long and be sure to tag us when you share these interesting tidbits with your friends via social media! And, if you want more information like this or are curious to learn more about the Ann Arbor region and what makes it such a great place to live, work, and locate your business, please reach out to our Director of Research, Melissa Sheldon.

In case you missed it, here are links to the regional comparisons we’ve posted so far this year: 

Benchmarking the Ann Arbor Region: 2023 Economic Competitive Assessment

Game 1: Ann Arbor vs. Greenville, NC

Game 2: Ann Arbor vs. Las Vegas, NV

Game 3: Ann Arbor vs. Bowling Green, OH

Game 4: Ann Arbor vs. New Brunswick, NJ

Game 5: Ann Arbor vs. Lincoln, NE

Game 6: Ann Arbor vs. Minneapolis, MN

Game 7: Ann Arbor vs. Bloomington, IN