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Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Aircraft carrier game already looking cool

By Eamonn Brennan

After months of prospective speculation and hesitant planning, the logistics for Michigan State and North Carolina's long-rumored game aboard an aircraft carrier have begun to take shape.

The verdict? This game is going to be thoroughly cool in pretty much every way. Unless you were planning on attending.

Yes, as the AP reports today, there will be no public tickets sold for the Spartans' and Tar Heels' one-game Veterans Day showcase aboard an aircraft carrier -- either the USS Ronald Reagan or the USS Carl Vinson, which will be docked in San Diego -- on Nov. 11. To get a ticket, you'll either have to be one of a few fans lucky enough to get a ticket from the respective schools or one of the military members invited by the Morale Entertainment Foundation, which is organizing the event.

Why the lack of public tickets? Wouldn't fans of both marquee programs pay a pretty penny for such a unique experience? Sure they would. But you can't exactly sell tickets for this event like a normal game because -- duh -- you can't have scalpers standing outside a military warship selling tickets to anyone who yells, "I need two!" From the AP:
Organizer Mike Whalen of Morale Entertainment Foundation said tickets won't be sold to the public. They'll be free to those lucky enough to be chosen, and scalpers will be out of luck. Whalen said ticket holders' names will be printed on the front, and ID must match.

"It makes sure that the right people are going to the game and that there's no aftermarket," Whalen said Monday. "It's an added measure of security. Again, this is a United States warship. We've got to make sure we know who's coming onboard the ship."

[...] Each school will get 750 tickets, 400 will go to coaches participating in a clinic and 1,000 will go to the Morale Entertainment Foundation and its partners: the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Wounded Warrior Project and the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Basically, even if you're a Spartans or Tar Heels fan, you'll have to be extremely lucky (or extremely well-connected) to get aboard the aircraft carrier on Nov. 11. Probably best not to get your hopes up.

Still, even if that's a minor disappointment, the rest of the event sounds fantastic. Tentative plans include Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan serving as respective honorary captains for their former schools, while veterans from a host of the Morale Entertainment Foundation's associated groups -- the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Wounded Warrior Project and the San Diego Air & Space Museum -- make up much of the assembled audience.

Coolest of all is an artist's rendition of the court setup, which you can see here. Apparently, organizers are planning on building a mini-outdoor fieldhouse, complete with stands on all sides of the court and huge TV screens in opposite corners. It's almost like a full-fledged basketball arena will be lifted in and plopped onto an aircraft carrier. It's mind-blowing stuff.

Throw the quality cause at the heart of this idea -- a chance to entertain and honor America's military heroes for their courage and sacrifice -- and, well, does it get much cooler than that? Because I'm pretty sure it doesn't get much cooler than that.