According to the Albuquerque Journal's Geoff Grammer, there have been preliminary talks between the Arizona Wildcats and New Mexico Lobos regarding a potential 2015-16 home-and-home basketball series. The twist?
By home, Grammer means the home of Arizona's football team. After the Wildcats play outdoors at Arizona Stadium in 2015, they would then play in UNM's home hoops arena, The Pit, in 2016.
Update (12 p.m. MST, Tuesday): Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne shot down that anything was even close to being signed off upon on Tuesday.
For those asking about a @APlayersProgram game in AZ Stadium. Something we are considering because of the passion of our fan base.— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) February 25, 2014
Everything is preliminary. Surprised NM Coach took it upon himself to mention. If it happens it will be w/another team.— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) February 25, 2014
During the Pac-12 teleconference call on Tuesday, coach Sean Miller denied that anything was concrete but did admit that playing and outdoor game has been a discussion.
"We have some ideas within our own athletic department in trying to take advantage of No. 1, the uniqueness of our rabid fan base we have and No. 2, the incredible weather," Miller said. "There's no serious discussions with anyone in particular. I don't know if the whole football stadium basketball game idea will ever come to fruition. We are looking into it."
The original report from Grammer:
Lobo hoops coach Craig Neal said on radio there are talks between UNM/Arizona to play in 2015 in UA football stadium then in the Pit in '16— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) February 25, 2014
Neal said he doesn't know if the deal will get done, but he was just talking about it on his coach's radio show.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) February 25, 2014
If the UA/UNM hoops game happens, said Neal, it may be a 1pm game in Arizona FB stadium w/ a UA FB game at 7 pm. Talks are very preliminary.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) February 25, 2014
First thought: This would certainly put more butts in the seats than that whole Jay-Z concert back in 2009.
Second thought: The basketball team could legitimately attract a near-capacity crowd at Arizona Stadium, and I think that's the case even if there weren't a football game following a daytime hoops game.
Weather concerns are obviously an issue. Too early in the year, and the monsoons would risk blowing in, though a 1 p.m. start time might avoid that possibility. It's hard to see this going down any later than mid-December, so obviously it might be a bit chilly. But of all places to pull off an outdoor game of roundball, Tucson ain't bad.
Wind and moisture won't be a problem so long as the monsoon don't hit. It's better than playing on a battleship in a bay.
Staring into the crystal ball, the Wildcats should probably be the heavy favorites in such a series.
While it's obviously an attempt to get the spotlight on the football program through the school's most marketable sport, it's hard to see it being an awful idea if the scheduling logistics work out. It builds the national brand, should bring in quite a bit of money, and at Arizona, it'll be quite a festive occasion.
College hoops has built up tons of hype with its few games taking place on battleships -- Arizona was in on that originally but backed out -- and most recently in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns played a preseason game at a tennis arena in Indian Wells, Calif. They beat the Dallas Mavericks in a decently high-scoring game with a 98-90 final score, though both teams hit just short of 40 percent of their shot attempts.
It seems far from a done deal, but it's been an interesting thought and one thrown around at Arizona often -- I don't know about Greg Byrne, but it's been a topic of conversation among sports fans, at least.
So, what do you think? Good idea or bad?