Michigan State To Play Kentucky In "The BasketBowl" At Detroit's Ford Field

May 29, 2003

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State and Kentucky men's basketball teams will look to make history when they face off on Saturday, Dec. 13, at Ford Field, home of the NFL's Detroit Lions. The event coined "The BasketBowl - Hoops On The 50" will start at 4:00 p.m. and be nationally broadcast by CBS. With an expected crowd of more than 75,000, the game could establish a new world record for basketball attendance."We're excited about playing host to Kentucky at 'The BasketBowl' at Ford Field in Detroit," said MSU Athletics Director Ron Mason. "This promises to be one of the signature moments in Michigan State Athletics history.

"I was fortunate enough to be on the sidelines and coach in 'The Cold War' when a world-record crowd attended the MSU-Michigan hockey game in Spartan Stadium. 'The Cold War' remains one of the highlights of my 36-year coaching career. I see 'The BasketBowl' as the sequel to 'The Cold War', but now I have traded my seat behind the bench for a seat in the stands. I believe this upcoming event at Ford Field will become one of the highlights of my career as athletics director. 'The BasketBowl' will be so much more than a basketball game played between two elite collegiate programs. The atmosphere for this event should rival any NCAA Final Four."

The world basketball attendance record is 75,000 set on Aug. 21, 1951, during a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game played in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. The largest crowd ever to watch an NCAA basketball game saw 68,112 fans watch LSU defeat Notre Dame, 87-64, on Jan. 20, 1990, in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La. That game also stands as the North American attendance record, the competitive game world record and the indoor game world record. The largest crowd ever to watch a Michigan State basketball game was 45,406 at the 2001 Final Four, when Michigan State played Arizona on March 31, 2001, at the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Should "The BasketBowl" set a world attendance record, Michigan State will own the world record for both basketball and hockey attendance. On Oct. 6, 2001, "The Cold War" hockey game between Michigan State and Michigan drew 74,554 fans to Spartan Stadium. Tickets for "The Cold War" were suspended after nine business days.

"'The Basketbowl' is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the coaches, players and fans involved," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "We are excited to be taking the game to Detroit, which is important to our institution. Kentucky is the perfect opponent for this game as it is an elite program with a national following. It will be great for Michigan State University, the Spartan basketball program and college basketball to play this game on a national stage. We hope to create a Final Four atmosphere for a regular-season game.

"The decision to play this game was made with a lot of consideration. It's always difficult to give up a home game with the great atmosphere the community has created at the Breslin Center. But opportunities like this don't present themselves everyday. With 83 consecutive sellouts at the Breslin Center, not everyone has a chance to watch the Spartans. 'The BasketBowl' provides a great opportunity for more than 75,000 to help create an amazing homecourt advantage in front of a world-record crowd at Ford Field."

Michigan State and Kentucky are two of the elite programs in college basketball today. Both teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight last season and are sure to be among the top teams in the nation this upcoming season. Over the last six years (1998-2003), the two schools have combined for two national championships (MSU - 2000; UK - 1998); four Final Fours (MSU - 1999, 2000, 2001; UK - 1998), 12 NCAA Tournaments (MSU - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003; UK - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), eight regular-season conference championships (MSU - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001; UK - 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003) and six post-season conference tournament championships (MSU - 1999, 2000; UK - 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003).

Overall, Michigan State and Kentucky have combined for nine NCAA championships (MSU - 1979, 2000; UK - 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998) and 18 Final Fours (MSU - 1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001; UK - 1942, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1966, 1975, 1978, 1984, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998). Kentucky is college basketball's all-time winningest program with 1,849 wins.

"The opportunity to play in front of more than 75,000 people on a national stage with CBS will be an honor for our Wildcats," said Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. "The Wildcats support the winningest program of all time with seven national championships, and with Tubby Smith, we feel we have one of the classiest coaches in college basketball. For us to join Tom Izzo and his Spartans at Ford Field will truly be a memorable occasion, and one we will be looking forward to participating in."

"The BasketBowl" will be the 21st meeting between the Spartans and the Wildcats. Kentucky holds an 11-9 advantage in the series, although MSU and head coach Tom Izzo hold a 3-1 advantage over UK and Tubby Smith since the 1998-99 season. Most recently, Michigan State defeated Kentucky, 71-67, on Dec. 14, 2002, in Rupp Arena.

"I want to tell you how excited and proud we are to be participating in such a spectacular event that will have historical significance in being the most attended basketball game ever," said Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith. "It's something we're looking forward to being a part of. These are two great programs. Tom Izzo of Michigan State is always a formidable opponent, and I know he'll have his troops ready. And I expect we'll have the Wildcats ready to do battle in this type of environment. It will be a fun environment as everybody's eyes around the country will be on Ford Field."

The Michigan State Athletics Department will begin taking ticket orders immediately from donors and season-ticket holders. They may be purchased by contacting the MSU Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-STATE or 517-355-1610 or via the internet at www.msuspartans.com. The Kentucky Ticket Office is also accepting orders at this time from its donors and season-ticket holders. All requests will be filled based on availability, according to donor priority. Exact seating locations will be allocated at a later date. Public sale of tickets will begin July 8 at the Ford Field Ticket Office. "The BasketBowl" will offer seating options for every budget, with ticket prices ranging from $8 to $125. Fifty-seven percent of the tickets will sell for $14 or less.

For the contest, Michigan State will transport its playing floor to Ford Field. The Breslin Center court will be centered on the 50-yard line and elevated approximately two-and-a-half feet on a platform provided by SGA Production Staging of Lansing, Mich.

More than just a basketball game, "The BasketBowl" is sure to be an event. USA Basketball, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and FIBA have all expressed their support for the event and are planning on conducting events in conjunction with the game. In addition, both Michigan State and Kentucky will be represented by the world's largest pep bands, with more than 400 total band members. Finally, much like "The Cold War", "The BasketBowl" will feature musical guests and other forms of entertainment.