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The Basketbowl, between Michigan State
University and the University of
Kentucky was the most attended basketball game in history, as measured by
verified attendance. (The 1968 European
Cup Winners' Cup final between AEK Athens and Slavia Prague, held at the
Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, is believed to have had
80,000 in attendance, but that total has never been verified.) It
occurred on December 13, 2003 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan setting an attendance record of
78,129. Kentucky won the game 79–74, never trailing throughout the
The NCAA was
impressed with the massive size of the crowd that they decided in
2008 to expand the seating capacity for the Men's Division I Basketball Championship to
a minimum of 70,000 starting with the 2009 Final
Four, which would be held in that stadium.
Both schools entered into the contest with significant on-court
accomplishments. Combined, both school had won nine national
championships (seven for Kentucky, two for Michigan State) and made
18 Final Four appearances (13 for Kentucky,
five for Michigan State). Michigan State and Kentucky had met 20
times previously with Kentucky holding a 11–9 advantage. MSU had
defeated Kentucky 71–67 the previous year at Rupp Arena.
The court being assembled in Ford Field.
The basketball court for the game was moved from Michigan
State's Breslin Center and reassembled on the 50
yard line of Ford Field, giving the promotional title "Basketbowl:
Hoops on the 50!" This is the same court that Michigan State won
the 2000 NCAA Championship on in Indianapolis. In addition, the
entire court was raised off the field by a custom stage deck
installed by SGA Production Staging, Inc. to improve sight lines
for those sitting in the upper bowl of the stadium.
The previous record of 75,000 was held by the Harlem
Globetrotters during their exhibition game at Berlin, Germany's Olympic Stadium.
It was announced on April 15, 2008 that Ford Field would host
"BasketBowl II" between the Spartans and North Carolina as part of the ACC–Big Ten Challenge on December 3 of that
year. UNC won the game 98–63. The game was televised on ESPN. The two
teams met again in Ford Field four months later, this time for the
Men's Basketball Championship. That contest was also won by