Iowa women's basketball draws record crowd to outdoor exhibition game
Iowa women's basketball team sets a new attendance record with 55,646 fans at an outdoor game in Kinnick Stadium.
The coach of the Iowa women's basketball team, Lisa Bluder, devised a groundbreaking plan to host an outdoor game at Kinnick Stadium in an effort to break the record for the highest attendance at a women's basketball game. The game, known as the "Crossover at Kinnick," took place on Sunday and drew an astounding 55,646 fans. This nearly doubled the previous record of 29,619 set by Connecticut and Oklahoma in the 2002 NCAA championship game.
Bluder expressed her excitement and amazement at the turnout, stating that it was a dream come true. The game featured standout player Caitlin Clark, who recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The idea for an outdoor game came to Bluder after 9,000 fans attended a celebration for the Hawkeyes in April following their NCAA championship game against LSU.
Despite the partly cloudy skies and gusty winds, the game went on as planned. The wind did have an impact on some of the shots, with the Hawkeyes struggling from the field, 3-point range, and free throw line. However, Clark managed to hit a long-range 3-pointer early in the second quarter, showcasing her skills.
The "Crossover at Kinnick" was inspired by Nebraska's "Volleyball Day in Nebraska" event in August, which drew a record-breaking attendance of 92,003. Bluder and her team wanted to create a similar experience for women's basketball in Iowa, and they succeeded.
The rich history of women's and girls' basketball in Iowa adds to the significance of this event. The state has a long tradition of girls playing six-on-six basketball, which was a popular format until the 1980s. The girls' state tournament, which began in 1920, was a highly anticipated event that was televised statewide and in neighboring states.
The game not only broke attendance records but also had a charitable component. Players and coaches from both teams participated in "The Wave," a tradition at Kinnick Stadium where fans wave to young patients and their families watching from the nearby Stead Family Children's Hospital. The proceeds from the game were directed towards the hospital, with a check for $250,000 being presented during the game.
Bluder emphasized the significance of the game, reminding her team that they were playing for more than just themselves. They were playing for the university, fighting for the Children's Hospital, and making history. The success of the game has elevated the popularity of the Iowa women's basketball program, with every home game this season being a sellout.