It’s not every state that has the privilege of having, not one, but two highly-competitive college football teams. The Michigan State Spartans are located in East Lansing, just a few miles from the capital city of Lansing and only about an hour away from the University of Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Football fans in Michigan are truly lucky, especially when these two juggernaut football teams meet annually to rekindle the old, heated rivalry. Not only is the matchup between Michigan State and the University of Michigan a state rivalry, but it has also been a Big 10 Conference Rivalry since 1950, the year the Spartans joined the Big 10 Conference. In this rivalry, the winner of the perennial contest on the gridiron goes home with the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Whether they win or lose, Sparty, Michigan State's green-costumed spartan, is there to cheer the team on in green and white.
Michigan State has called Spartan Stadium its home since 1934, and it has been renovated many times, increasing its seating capacity at every turn. Since 2005, the stadium has had 75,000 seats, though the most recent renovation occurred in 2014.
Where did the Spartan name originate? Students in the 1920s voted to call themselves the “Michigan Staters” after the school changed its name from Michigan Agricultural College to Michigan State College. A local journalist, thinking the name Spartan would be a better fit, begin calling the team “Spartans,” and it caught on.
Michigan State Spartan football tickets are usually reasonably priced and might be a more economical way to see a local team play. In recent years, ticket prices have averaged between $50 and $60. Games against lower-ranked opponents, or opponents not in the Big 10 Conference, tend to be more affordable. Tickets for sports such as basketball and hockey can be found for under $20.
Because of East Lansing’s proximity to the state's capital of Lansing, there are many major roads that lead to and from the city. Fans coming from out of town will have no shortage of travel options. It’s worth noting that Ann Arbor and Detroit are nearby in case you’re interested in exploring more of Michigan. Watch out for road closures and changes to the flow of traffic before and after the game.
You may not have to bend over backward to park your RV at Spartan Stadium, but you might want to get there early to secure your spot. Head over to lot 97, which is behind the Engineering Research Building, and pay the $60 fee to park your RV. If the game begins at midday on a Saturday, lots may open at 7 a.m., and for afternoon games, lots might open at 9 a.m.
Instead of working up a sweat by walking to the stadium, use Michigan State’s shuttle bus service. The shuttle picks up passengers from Lot 89, which is located at the intersection of Mt. Hope Road and Farm Lane. It isn’t free to ride, but the fare is only $5 per person. You can begin to use the shuttle two hours before the game starts.
While parking may be available on game day, overnight stays are not typically offered. Book your stay at a local RV campground near Michigan State University.
You’ll find a few RV campgrounds in East Lansing, and there are many more campgrounds to the south in Jackson. Maybury State Park to the southeast about 60 miles and near Detroit may already be near your route to Spartan Country.
The Lansing Cottonwood Campground is only ten minutes away, and it is one of the best-rated RV campgrounds in the area. This local campground has a total of 145 sites, with many of them offering water and electric hookups. Note your camper dimensions when planning your trip as some sites may be tight for larger rigs. Also, you'll find a laundry room, hot showers, and, most importantly, Wi-Fi.
Traversing the stadium can be quite a hassle if you don’t know where you’re going, so ask an usher for directions if you’re lost. There are several elevators inside the stadium, but they are not open to all guests. Since strollers are not allowed inside the stadium, it's best to ride the shuttle if you're attending the game with young children.
With severe cold temperatures, you’ll want to make sure to pack warm clothing that can keep you toasty throughout the tailgate and the game. Also, pack Michigan State apparel such as hoodies, jackets, beanies, scarves, and anything else you may have lying around. After all, you don’t want to be the only person not decked out in white and green clothing.
The football season is also the tailgate season, and nothing says tailgate like bratwursts sizzling over hot coals. Bring your grill and all the accessories you need, but don’t forget about plates, cups, and cutlery. To show off your tasty spread, bring a foldable picnic table, and pack a few chairs so your guests have somewhere to sit.
Even the best of plans can be derailed by a small cut or scrape, which is why you should carry a first-aid kit at all times. These kits won’t replace a hospital, but they’ll help you resolve minor medical issues. In the wintertime, protect your extremities from the freezing weather to prevent yourself from getting sick.
No matter what you’re cooking, you’ll need groceries, supplies, and all the accouterments that go with tailgating. Stop by at the local supermarket the day before to stock up on all the necessities. By prepping dishes the day before the tailgate, you can save yourself some time and stress. Try out green and white eggs for Spartan colors at your table, or create kabobs with your favorite meat and veggies for easy clean-up.
There are a few perks to living so close to the capital, one of them being the diverse selection of restaurants. Steak, sandwiches, and burgers are plentiful, but you can also take your tastebuds on a tour around the world without having to leave East Lansing. Here, you can find Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Thai, and Japanese cuisine. Bon appetit!
Cheering for the home team often builds up an appetite, and there are plenty of concession stands that can provide you with some delicious fuel. Better yet, all major credit and debit cards are accepted, as well as some quick pay apps. Throughout the stadium, you’ll find several team shops in case you need new, Spartans-branded merchandise.
The gates to enter the stadium open one and a half hours before the game starts. Before you enter, however, leave any bags behind, since Spartan Stadium has a strict no-bag rule. If you see something suspicious, talk to a police officer or text “MSUPD” to 274637 with your concerns.
Winters in this part of Michigan can be somewhat brutal, as evidenced by the fact that the average high temperature in January land at a teeth-chattering 30 degrees. The temperature begins to cool in October, halfway through the football season, but it often goes drops much lower in December, when the season draws to a close. While freezing temperatures are common, intense snow is less common.
Lansing has a handful of first-aid stations within Spartan Stadium, which will be glad to help if you experience a medical emergency. The nearest hospital is less than three miles away, and pharmacy services are about the same distance. Remember to watch for ice patches on the sidewalks near your campsite and near the stadium in the winter months.