According to a team source, the Detroit Lions are starting to prepare for an outrageously large crowd for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day Classic against the Buffalo Bills. Per the source, things are currently trending towards an attendance of more than 66,000 for Thursday’s game. In fact, the team says they could be getting the second-biggest crowd ever for a Lions game at Ford Field, trailing only the 2011 “Monday Night Football” game against the Chicago Bears, which drew an attendance of 67,861.
Note: The largest attendance for any football game (including non-Lions games) at Ford Field was Super Bowl XL, with 68,206 spectators.
Obviously, there is some significant buzz around the Lions, despite their 4-6 overall record. They’re currently on a three-game winning streak, which included two games against divisional rivals, two road wins, and a decisive victory over the (then) 7-2 New York Giants.
“It’s been electric and I can only imagine now,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said of the Ford Field crowd. “I already know it’s going to be on fire. So it’s going to be great. It’s going to be great.”
This sudden optimism in Detroit is a drastic shift from where attendance numbers were last year. After the team got out to a 0-10-1 start, Detroit’s attendance fell to a low of 45,211 in Week 15—a game they ironically won as 13-point underdogs. For the season, the Lions had worse attendance than any other team in the NFL, averaging just 51,522.
This year, however, those numbers are up to 62,194—or a 96.4 capacity rate, which is 22nd in the league.
So if you’re going to Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game, needless to say, you should show up early to make sure you don’t miss anything. With a full house expected and the early-morning parade going through downtown Detroit, plan ahead… way ahead.