There could be a lot worse places to spend a Tuesday evening than in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Home to Western Michigan, MACtion, and neighbors to Chicago and Detroit, it ranks 88 on our Top 100 College Football Towns in America countdown.
To celebrate 100 days until the start of the college football season, HERO Sports is counting down the Top 100 FBS College Football Towns in America. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new city will be revealed. We will analyze the city, the program, the good and bad of the city as well as the bottom line. If you got a problem, @me on Twitter.
88. Kalamazoo, Michigan – Western Michigan
[credit] Western Michigan football just experienced the best it might ever achieve, now comes the hard part. (Photo: Western Michigan University)[/credit]
The wake has not yet settled from P.J. Fleck rowing that boat through Kalamazoo on his way to Minneapolis, but the time was sure great while it lasted. After residing in the shadows of Big 10 country, Fleck and the Broncos left a lasting impact on college football. In four years in Kalamazoo, Fleck took the Broncos to three straight bowl games. 2016 was one of the years that rarely–if ever–happens with a Group of Five program.
Western Michigan went undefeated in the regular season, College Gameday came to town, and the entire midwest became extremely invested in aquatic leisure activities. The moment was fleeting but lasting (if that makes sense). On his departure, things seemed to have reverted back to the normal stasis. Western Michigan's record was 6-6 last year and average attendance dropped from approximately 23,000 to 16,000 per game.
Kalamazoo sits equidistant from Chicago and Detroit. Both major metropolises just around 150 miles away from the "Zoo" as maybe no one refers to it, but should be used by any and all. Ann Arbor is 100 miles, East Lansing around 80, South Bend just 72. Basically, you can drive practically anywhere in the midwestern United States that has good football and still make it home to sleep in your comfy bed in the "Zoo." There are so many little nuggets of character to this city that you could spend a whole football season exploring–that is of course in between trips to every other major city in the Midwest.
Derek Jeter is from the "Zoo." Sweetwater's Donut Mill was named one of the best donuts in America. Sustainable craft brewing programs were launched at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University in 2015. The city's name is Kalamazoo!
A group of anonymous donors created The Kalamazoo Promise to pay up to 100 percent of tuition at any of Michigan‘s state colleges or universities for graduates of Kalamazoo public high schools. The city's name is Kalamazoo!
Out of all the fun nicknames that could have been associated with Kalamazoo, they went with "Celery City," and then "Paper City." SMH.
Come to Kalamazoo on a Tuesday, watch some MACtion, spend the rest of your time enjoying the many distinct flavors of Kalamazoo. Then head out on the weekend for more (better) college football all within a quick drive's distance.