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Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Liberty to play first outdoors regular-season pro basketball game

ESPN.com news services

For one night, the New York Liberty get to take their game to an outdoor playground.

In this instance, the playground will be Arthur Ashe Stadium, located in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., normally home of the U.S. Open. On July 19, the Liberty will play the Indiana Fever under the lights at 7:30 p.m.

The news was first reported by the New York Post.

The game is being titled the Liberty Outdoor Classic, and will be the first regular-season professional basketball game played outside. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation will receive a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales.

"It will bring all of us back to our roots, celebrate the enormous growth and interest in the women's game and provide an opportunity to gain unprecedented exposure for Liberty basketball and the WNBA," said Carol Blazejowski, president and general manager of the Liberty, who made the formal announcement Wednesday afternoon. "That the game is taking place in a venue named after one of the greatest pioneers in women's sports makes the event particularly meaningful."

The Liberty's court, also used by the New York Knicks, will be moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the game. The team and the league chose not to go with a day game, to protect the players' health, but if it rains, the game will be rescheduled -- to be played indoors -- for the next day, July 20.

This also will be the first non-tennis event held at Arthur Ashe, which seats 23,000. "It was not too big, not too wide open," Blazejowski told the Post. "The court fits beautifully right in the center. It's a great place to watch an event. It will be fun. It will be history."

It will not be the first outdoor professional game. The Phoenix Suns defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in a preseason NBA game at a baseball stadium on Sept. 24, 1972, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The NBA will hold its own outdoor game when the Suns play the Denver Nuggets in a preseason matchup in October in Indian Wells, Calif.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.