Copyright 2024 SPARK

Quick refresher: This fall there are 8 home football games out of the 12 game regular season. We used this rather unprecedented home game advantage as an impetus to ask ourselves how we stack up against other, similar regions. How does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the US?

Saturday, September 10th: game two! University of Michigan vs. University of Central Florida. Ann Arbor MI; Orlando FL.

To set this scene for this comparison, it’s necessary to investigate a bit further for context…

Orlando is about 2.5x bigger than Ann Arbor, and the University of Central Florida is the largest university in the US by undergraduate enrollment AND total enrollment. UCF may be ranked further down on the research spending list, but it’s worth noting that the bulk of that is spent on research specifically for space exploration. The university was founded in the 60s with a specific mission to provide personnel to support the growing space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Though the scope of the university has broadened over time, UCF is still very connected to its history and continues to lead the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium. This commitment to engineering, technology, and innovation makes Orlando is a significant competitor to Ann Arbor in terms of economic development.

Apart from that, both our governors are named “Rick” – and though MI has decidedly fewer alligators, we make up for it with a lot more snow.

Here’s how UofM and Ann Arbor compare against UCF and Orlando:

Pasted image at 2016_09_07 10_34 AM

One other fun fact: Walt Disney World (founded about 10 years after UCF) – covers 27,258 acres (43 sq mi) – about the size of San Francisco, twice the size of Manhattan, or 1.5 times the size of the city of Ann Arbor. Though technically not in the city limits of Orlando, it makes up a huge part of the regional economy.