Michigan State and Gonzaga recently announced that they will be renewing the Carrier Classic this season, the series of College Basketball games played on aircraft carriers that had last been taken place in 2012. The even had long been celebrated for its surreal setting and appearance on TV. But, poor weather conditions forced the cancellation of two of the four final games that took place in 2012; you may recall that Georgetown had its contest against Florida on the USS Bataan cancelled after wet conditions made the court unplayable by halftime.
Similarly, Wisconsin and Stanford will be facing off in a wild outdoor basketball game. This one, taking place this November at American Family Field (home ballpark of the Milwaukee Brewers) will also feature a women’s contest between Wisconsin and Kansas State. Such an ambitious venture has not been attempted since 2015, when excessive lines put a damper on a San Diego upset of San Diego State game at Pepco Park (home ballpark of the Padres). Whether it be a renewed confidence in navigating complicated logistics following the COVID-19 seasons or merely the fact that the powers have be have forgotten about what brought these events to a halt in the first place, it is becoming clear that there is a new opening for creativity that Georgetown should seriously explore.
Especially with both the Gavitt Tipoff Games and Big East–Big 12 Battle scheduled to expire after their 2022 editions, now is the perfect time for Georgetown to explore adding a creative outdoor game that takes advantage of the school’s home in Washington, DC. Below, I have compiled a set of potential venues varying greatly in plausibility and intrigue that could be considered as potentially outdoor, neutral-site competitions for the Hoyas. They are presented in no particular order.
1. The National Mall
Tough to beat the most-visited National Park in the country.
Picture this – a drone shot of the Hoyas facing off against UCLA on the National Mall. As the camera pans out, it picks up early evening views of the Capitol and turns to show the Washington Monument with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. I mean, that would absolutely rule. The National Mall has plenty of space on greenery around the Smithsonians to put on a basketball event of this magnitude.
2. A Local DC Boys and Girls Club Gym
Many Georgetown fans are aware that the Boys & Girls Club had a special place in John Thompson Jr.’s heart. After donating $42,500 to keep the doors of the Butler-Wyatt Clubhouse on M Street open for another three months in 2013, Thompson detailed how much the organization meant to him: “As a kid I played there, my sons played there and now my grandsons play there… You need guidance and you need people who are there.” As a way of continuing to celebrate Thompson’s legacy, the Hoyas could play a Boys & Girls club game against a local university with revenues that went, at least in part, directly to the Boys & Girls club to support their mission. It would be moving to watch the Blue and Gray play where its trailblazing coach first discovered his love for basketball.
3. White House Lawn
While Georgetown hasn’t made a trip to the White House since the Reagan Administration, perhaps a new Washington, DC tradition could be born.
This would be far and away the most presidential set-up Georgetown could conjure up. I, for one, would immediately sign up for Brandon Murray throwing down dunks just steps from the Oval Office with the fountain spouting in the background. I have to imagine that a crowd at this venue would be limited for security regions, but the novelty of a basketball court in front of the White House would be more than enough to make it worth it on TV alone. No matter the opponent, this venue would be beyond surreal.
4. A Popular DC Public Basketball Park
The DMV prides itself on its informal basketball prowess perhaps more than any other metropolitan area in the country. If Georgetown really wanted to regain the iconic identity it had during its Varsity Jacket heyday, the school could take a stab at playing an outdoor game at a popular public basketball park in the city. The energy of a meaningful non-conference basketball game authentically within the city could revolutionize how college programs think about creative venues going forward.
5. Cooper Field/Greene Stadium
This could become the DC college basketball equivalent of the NHL’s Stadium Series. The Hoyas would set up a court on the Cooper Field turf with limited temporary seating on the north and east sides of the court (taking advantage of the new grandstands that debuted within the last year). Georgetown could invite Howard and then play the following year at the Bison’s on-campus football field, Greene Stadium. The camera angles from Cooper also lend themselves well to aesthetic views of the Hariri Building and Healy Hall, among others.
6. Healy Lawn/McKeldin Mall
It’s no secret that Healy Lawn is the most beautiful spot on Georgetown’s campus. Each spring, the school graduates its students right in front of Healy Hall. Now, imagine a court and temporary bleachers set up with that backdrop on a cool November day – pretty tough to beat. There are already pretty natural boundaries of the front gates and Healy Hall that could make it easy to contain the space and regulate capacity. For this game, I would invite Maryland and play a return game on their campus quad, McKeldin Mall. Would look awesome on TV so see the clocktower rising up from the midcourt line.
7. A Local DC High School Gym
The energy at a jam-packed DC gym would be a great way to celebrate the community.
Many fans have grumbled that homegrown too much DMV talent has been leaving the Beltway to play elsewhere. The Hoyas could celebrate the quality of basketball in the area and hold an annual game that rotates among high school gyms in the District. Georgetown vs Howard at DeMatha’s gymnasium would undoubtedly become a hot topic in local news. The charm of such an event could not be matched, either. Perhaps you could even bring Georgetown players back to their home high school gyms, if any happened to be on the roster.
8. Union Station
Georgetown already traditionally holds its Senior Ball in Union Station shortly before graduation in the spring. Now, instead imagine a full court set-up in the main hall of Union Station with temporary grandstands flanking the court. Nothing screams Northeast hoops like the Amtrack line. The TV deal on an evening DC showcase featuring Georgetown/Howard/American/George Washington could give DC its own version of the Philadelphia Big 5.
Hopefully the Hoyas consider take advantage of their unique geographic location and pursues an outside-the-box venue in the elements. Where do you think Georgetown should schedule an outdoor contest? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!