Iowa-DePaul women’s outdoor basketball game at Kinnick could draw over 50,000 fans, world record

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — High-scoring Iowa star Caitlin Clark doesn’t expect to have much of a shooting touch Sunday when the Hawkeyes host DePaul in an outdoor exhibition at Kinnick Stadium before an expected crowd of over 50,000 that could set a world record for attendance at a women’s basketball game.

Far from it, in fact.

“I tell people I will airball twice. Just prepare yourself,” she said. “The wind, the depth perception of seeing the hoop in a big stadium … That’s just how it’s going to be. I’m sure there’ll be no super stellar shooting performances by anybody. It’ll be attack the basket and get to the rim.”

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the “Crossover at Kinnick” at the 69,000-seat stadium. Net proceeds benefit the university’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, whose young patients can watch games from window seats. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m. EDT.

If all goes as planned, Iowa would break the women’s basketball all-time attendance record of 29,619, set by Connecticut and Oklahoma in the 2002 NCAA championship game at San Antonio’s Alamodome.

The “Crossover at Kinnick” is Iowa’s answer to August’s “Volleyball Day in Nebraska,” an outdoor doubleheader featuring the national power Nebraska Cornhuskers and three other in-state college teams that drew 92,003 to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln for the highest documented attendance ever for a women’s sporting event.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said she came up with the idea for an outdoor basketball game when 9,000 fans showed up for a campus celebration for the Hawkeyes in April upon return from their NCAA championship game against LSU.

“Why not give my women an experience that not many people around the country get to do?” Bluder said. “We’re going to be the first women’s basketball game televised in the country (this season). I think it brings national attention to not only our program but to the University of Iowa. Why wouldn’t we try to do this?”

Women’s and girls basketball has a long and rich history in Iowa. Girls played six-on-six high school basketball more than a century ago — three offensive players, three defensive players, only two dribbles and none allowed to cross halfcourt. The girls state tournament, first held in 1920, was a huge event televised statewide and in neighboring states until the five-player game took over in the 1980s.

Last year, the Hawkeyes ranked second nationally in attendance and Iowa State was seventh.

Bluder’s team has never been more popular in the state. The program is coming off its best season, Clark is the returning Associated Press player of the year and a showwoman with her deep 3-pointers. Season ticket sales nearly doubled to 13,000.

The outdoor game is especially meaningful to Clark, who grew up in West Des Moines. She’s often said her goal when she chose to play at Iowa was to lead the program to unprecedented heights.

“I just hope and pray for good weather,” Clark said. “I’m going to go out there and enjoy every single second because it’ll probably never happen again.”

The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 50s, cloudy skies and north wind at 10-20 mph. There is only a slight chance of rain. The game would be moved into Carver-Hawkeye Arena if it rains, and only those who bought $20 tickets would be allowed inside.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball

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