In the never-ending battle between Spartan and Wolverine dominance, Green and White wins out when it comes to displaying school spirit on Michigan’s roads.
For more than a dozen years, the Secretary of State’s office has offered specialty license plates that help raise funds for the state’s 15 public universities and several special causes or nonprofit organizations.
In that time, state records show Michigan State University’s license plate has garnered the most popularity — with more than a half-million sold since the plate debuted in 2000, along with other college plates. By comparison, the license plate for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has drawn about 362,000 patrons, topping out at third most popular behind a patriotic plate that debuted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
MSU officials said the popularity of the university’s plate likely stems from its large alumni base in Michigan.
For each plate, the state splits the profits with the benefiting university, organization or special cause.
The plate costs drivers $35 in addition to normal registration fees. Of that, $25 goes to the organization and $10 goes back to the state as a service fee to produce the plate. MSU has earned more than $6.2 million from the proceeds of the plates since 2000.
In all, fundraising plates have generated more than $31 million in revenue for universities and special causes, according to the state data.
Getting approval for a new specialty or fundraising license plate isn’t easy. It requires action by the Legislature, and lawmakers typically are choosy on which plates they approve, but they have approved more in recent years.
In 2012, the state began offering two new license plates that benefit Boy Scout councils in Michigan and efforts to encourage organ donation. This spring, lawmakers approved another new plate that’s being developed to benefit Ducks Unlimited, which funds wetlands and conservation projects in Michigan and across the country.
Ducks Unlimited regional public policy director Gildo Tori said the organization had sought the designation in Michigan for a dozen years and already has special license plates in many surrounding states.
“The DU logo is one of the most highly recognized brands in the outdoor conservation and recreation market,” Tori said. “We hope that the license plate increases DU visibility, recognition and eventually support, financial and otherwise.”
The Ducks Unlimited plate won’t be available to Michigan drivers until next June, because state officials have to work with the group to design the plate, print it and distribute it.