Jacksonville, FL - When Jacksonville first announced the Navy-Marine Corps Classic in 2012 as part of the “Week of Valor” honoring veterans, the hope was to make it an annual event.
But for the second year in a row, WOKV has confirmed the game will not happen.
“We’re exploring other options from a basketball standpoint, we will not be playing a game at a Navy facility this year,” says Jacksonville’s Interim Sports Director Joel Lamp.
The inaugural Classic, between the Florida Gators and Georgetown Hoyas aboard the USS Bataan, cost the city more than $700,000. It spurred the city to form a special committee to study the financial loss, and they determined there were several factors including lack of title sponsor, smaller ship than anticipated, and loss in concessions due to the game being called at halftime from condensation on the court.
Once these findings came out, Jacksonville decided it was too late to put on another Classic last year without meeting the same problems. When they called off the game at that time, however, the intent was to bring it back this year- even if that meant looking at other military venues like NAS Jax.
Lamp says their focus now, instead is the Veterans Memorial Arena.
“We’re reaching out to a lot of teams, and we’ve gotten a lot of interest,” he says.
Lamp says the City is still determined to get more non-conference basketball to Jacksonville, but they are using the Arena as a recruiting tool to make that happen.
Jacksonville will host NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship rounds next year and the SEC Women’s Basketball Championship in 2016, both at the Arena. Lamp says many teams who may be contenders in those tournaments are eager to arrange a game ahead of time which they can use to get a better feel of the venue.
“We’re working with teams now on scheduling to see what we can come up with,” Lamp says.
He didn’t have any anticipated timeline for announcing such a game, but said they’re talking with big name teams including the Florida Gators.
As for the Navy-Marine Corps Classic, Lamp hopes to be able to bring back the event, or something similar, in the future, but says there are no finite plans in place.