Football in Michigan, Pennsylvania is moving to Black Friday at Ford Stadium


Thanksgiving weekend will be action-packed at Ford Stadium in Detroit, with Spartan Football joining the Detroit Lions and MHSAA (Michigan Collegiate Athletic Association) for four straight days of football. In cooperation with the Big Ten Conference and conference broadcast partners, Michigan State will close out the 2023 regular season by hosting Penn State at Ford Field in a primetime show on NBC, broadcast on Peacock, Friday, November 24 at 7:30 p.m.

“This is a unique opportunity, for both our football program and our fan base, to play a Black Friday game at Ford Stadium,” said Alan Haller, MSU vice president and director of athletics. “Southeast Michigan is home to 100,000 alumni, nearly 50 percent of our students and countless Spartan fans. Our men’s basketball team has had tremendous support in Detroit, at both Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena, and we’re excited to bring Spartan football for our fans at the Motor City. The city is important to our mission not only as an athletic department, but our entire university. We expect the experience to be much more than a game of football for our Spartan friends.

“The decision to move a home game away from Spartan Stadium has been carefully considered, as we understand the impact this will have on some fans. As a community partner, we understand that home football brings benefits to the entire Central Michigan region. The fact is that this weekend game falls on a Friday, It increased our willingness to make the move. I think our season ticket holders still have a strong set of home games highlighted by Michigan and a major non-conference game against Washington, six home games total just as we did in 2021.”

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Spartan Fund donors and 2023 football season ticket holders will have the opportunity to purchase tickets in Spartan Fund donor priority order. The game at Ford Field will be sold as a standalone tournament, with details, including sale dates, to be announced in the near future. Season ticket holders and student season pass holders who have already paid for a 2023 ticket package will be refunded for tickets and parking for the previously scheduled game vs. Penn State at Spartan Stadium. There will be dedicated divisions in the lower bowl for Michigan State students, with priority given to 2023 season card holders for students.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our program to play in prime time on the weekends,” said the MSU head football coach Mel Tucker. “Our players will be competitive in the NFL environment while being showcased in the national spotlight. I look forward to our fans creating a buzzing atmosphere and giving us a home advantage at Ford Stadium.”

The Big Ten Conference approached Michigan about the athletic department’s willingness to consider moving the final regular season game to a national Friday night television window, and the possibility of moving the contest from Spartan Stadium to Ford Field. Michigan State presented the idea to the Ford Field Company, who quickly expressed willingness to accommodate the move. The two groups managed to quickly and efficiently work through the details of the event. Michigan also consulted with the MHSAA that the state football tournaments would be moved from the Friday and Saturday of that weekend to Saturday and Sunday (November 25 and 26).

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“Moving the game to Ford Field required a lot of collaboration between the different organizations,” Haller explained. “The Detroit Lions have been exceptional to work with and were immediately on board to facilitate the move. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work with their staff on various events, and our existing relationships have allowed us to move quickly through the process. I also want to extend a huge thank you to MHSAA for their flexibility and willingness to adjust the tournament schedule. They have also been an outstanding community partner for some time. Through collaboration and creativity, this will be a memorable football weekend, benefiting the Detroit Lions and Ford Field, MSU and Spartan Football, the MHSAA, and most importantly It’s all Detroit.”

“We are very excited to partner with the Big Ten Conference to host a game at Ford Field,” said Detroit Lions President and CEO Rod Wood. “Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit is synonymous with football and being able to add a Big Ten marquee game just elevates the weekend. We are proud to host NFL Championship Football, Big Ten Football and Michigan Football in downtown Detroit and look forward to the energy and excitement of the holiday Weekend. The Detroit Lions and Ford Field are committed to growing the game and the football community throughout the state of Michigan.”

“MHSAA has enjoyed a long relationship with two of our best partners, Michigan State University and Ford Field,” said MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl. “Our athletes have incredible experiences on both MSU and Ford Field campuses with our championship events. Given the unique opportunities this fall, the MHSAA was proud to play a small role in making the puzzle work with Ford Field, Michigan State Athletics, and the Big Ten Conference, with Keeping all eight of our games this Thanksgiving weekend at Ford Field.”

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“The Big Ten Conference is thrilled that Michigan State will host Penn State at Ford Field in prime time on NBC,” Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti stated. “We are so grateful for the collaboration between our member institutions, broadcast partners, Ford Field and the Detroit Lions to provide this unique opportunity and amazing exposure to our student athletes on Black Friday.”

The Spartans’ last appearance in Detroit was a 30-17 win over Florida Atlantic on September 11, 2010, at Ford Field, when FAU moved its home game to Michigan while still controlling ticket sales and marketing for the contest. Before that, MSU’s last appearance in downtown Detroit was on October 27, 1944, when head coach Charlie Bachman led the Spartans to a 32-0 victory over Wayne State in a contest played at University of Detroit Stadium.

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