By Warren Wise
Post and Courier
On Nov. 9, three college basketball teams will converge on the flight deck of the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown for the second annual Carrier Classic charity event.
NBC Sports Network will telecast nationally the Veterans Day weekend doubleheader featuring the Ohio State women, who finished last season ranked 16th, taking on national runner-up Notre Dame at 4 p.m. and men's Final Four participant Ohio State playing Sweet 16 participant Marquette at 7 p.m.
The men's game will air live. The women's match-up will be telecast at 11 p.m.
About 4,000 seats will be set up on the nearly 900-foot-long former warship, with most of the tickets given away to participating schools, active-duty military members, veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project and sponsors.
About 500 tickets for the general public are on sale for about $500 each. The ticket price covers both games. A limited number of floor-side seats will be available from $1,000 to $2,500, said George Moore with Morale Entertainment Group, which is organizing the event.
The court will be laid out over the width of the flight deck, with one basket on the harbor side and the other beneath the Yorktown's control tower. Bleachers will face the court from either end of the ship. There will be no seats behind the goals. A 20-foot shield will be erected to prevent balls from bouncing overboard.
Aircraft now parked on the flight deck will be moved to either end of the vessel.
Materials to be used for the game will begin arriving on the flight deck on the evening of Oct. 31. It's expected to take a week to set up the bleachers, flooring, goals, lighting and scoreboard, said Eric Corriher, project manager with Production Design Associates of North Charleston.
Patriots Point, the state maritime agency that oversees the vintage aircraft carrier, is not involved in the event except for leasing the site, and it will not close during set-up or break-down for the games, spokeswoman Ashley Smith said.
"The Yorktown will still be open," she said. "Some areas might be roped off, but we will minimize disruption to the public as much as possible."
Carrier Classic organizers say the event is meant to pay tribute to active-duty military and veterans, and the addition of a women's game this year is geared toward recognizing the roughly 20 percent of the U.S. military forces made up of women.
Organizers also decided to come to the Yorktown because they sought a venue for possible long-term use and a ship that wasn't going anywhere.
The inaugural Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson near San Diego, featured two men's teams, North Carolina and Michigan State, and drew President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
They have been invited again, as well as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann. There is no word on whether they will attend.
Mike Whalen, co-director of Morale Entertainment, estimated the event will cost between $2 million and $3 million to put on and hopes to raise money from sponsors to offset the cost and donate leftover proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and Medal of Honor Society.
The Medal of Honor Museum occupies a small space on the Yorktown, but there are plans to build a new $100 million facility on a 12-acre parcel owned by Patriots Point.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will move to McAlister Field House at The Citadel. Officials plan to make that call by noon Nov. 8, Whalen said.
For more information or tickets, go to www.carrierclassic.org or call 770-565-6995.
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