Detroit — The fans and the schools spoke up, and ESPN has listened.
Game times for the college basketball doubleheader at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 16 have been moved up, meaning there's no more conflict with the Lions-Bears game taking place at the same time down the road at Ford Field.
According to an email sent from ESPN to the four schools, the Big Ten and the Horizon League on Monday afternoon, the Michigan-Detroit Mercy game now will be played at noon (instead of 1:30 p.m.) and Michigan State-Oakland now will be at 2:30 p.m. (instead of 4 p.m.).
The marquee of the two basketball games, MSU and Oakland, had been originally scheduled to be played practically opposite the Lions game, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. that same Saturday.
Both college basketball games will be televised on ESPNU; MSU and Oakland was originally scheduled to air on ESPN2.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe told The News late last week that there was a good chance the tip-off times could move to avoid the Lions game— while creating a sports tripleheader downtown. And that's exactly what has happened. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, who has a lot of clout, expressed disappointment at the game times, as well.
More than 10,000 tickets have been sold for the basketball doubleheader, dubbed "The District Detroit Basketball Showcase." One ticket gets you both games, the first college basketball games to take place at the new arena, and prices run from $40 to $75.
Olympia Entertainment expects the doubleheader to sell out. Capacity for basketball at the new arena is about 21,000.