Michigan State-Penn State football moves to Black Friday at Ford Field

Thanksgiving weekend will be full of action at Detroit’s Ford Field, with Spartan Football joining the Detroit Lions and MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) for four straight days of football. In collaboration with the Big Ten Conference and the conference’s broadcast partners, Michigan State will close the 2023 regular season by hosting Penn State at Ford Field in a primetime showcase on NBC, and streaming on Peacock, on Friday, Nov. 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 Field,” said MSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller. “Southeast Michigan is home to 100,000 alums, nearly 50 percent of our student body and countless more Spartan fans. Our men’s basketball team has experienced tremendous support in Detroit, both at Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena, and we’re excited to bring Spartan Football to our fans in the Motor City. The city is important to our mission not only as an athletic department, but our entire University. We anticipate that the experience will be so much more than a football game for our Spartan faithful.

“The decision to move a home game out of Spartan Stadium was given careful consideration, as we understand the impact it will have on some fans. As a community partner, we recognize home football brings benefits to the entire Mid-Michigan area. The fact that this game falls on a holiday weekend Friday increased our willingness make the move. I believe our season ticket holders still have a strong collection of home games highlighted by Michigan and a premier non-conference game against Washington, with a total of six home games just as we had in 2021.”

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 contest, with details, including on-sale dates, to be announced in the near future. Season ticket holders and student season pass holders who have already paid for the 2023 ticket package will be refunded for tickets and parking to the previously scheduled game vs. Penn State at Spartan Stadium. There will be designated sections in the lower bowl for Michigan State students, with priority going to 2023 student season pass holders.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our program to play in prime time on a holiday weekend,” said MSU head football coach Mel Tucker. “Our players will be able to compete in an NFL environment while being showcased in the national spotlight. I’m looking forward to our fans creating a loud atmosphere and giving us a home-field advantage at Ford Field.”

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

“Moving a game to Ford Field requires significant cooperation among different organizations,” explained Haller. “The Detroit Lions have been exceptional to work with and were on board right away to facilitate this move. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with their staff on different events, and our existing relationships allowed us to move quickly through this process. I’d also like to give a tremendous thank you to the MHSAA for their flexibility and willingness to adjust their championship schedule. They too have been an outstanding community partner for quite some time. Through cooperation and ingenuity this will be a memorable holiday weekend of football, benefitting the Detroit Lions and Ford Field, Michigan State University and Spartan Football, the MHSAA, and most of all the city of Detroit.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering 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 marquee Big Ten game only elevates the weekend. We are proud to be hosting NFL football, Big Ten Football and the Michigan high school football championships 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.”

“The 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 both on the Michigan State campus and Ford Field with our championship events. Given the unique opportunities of this fall, the MHSAA was proud to play a small part in making the puzzle work with Ford Field, Michigan State Athletics and the Big Ten Conference, while still preserving all eight of our games on Thanksgiving weekend at Ford Field.”

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

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

Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)