The Expanding Stadium Portfolio

News is coming out of East Lansing today that Michigan State is looking to book a basketball game next season on an aircraft carrier. Spartans fans are not new to the concept of non-basketball venues as the basketball team has already played in Ford Field and other football focused stadiums like Reliant Stadium in Houston and the Final Four last season at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. While the concept of playing away from the Breslin is not new, the idea of taking the game outside and on the seas is something truly innovative.

The idea of a game outside of its “normal” venue has become one of the biggest trends in sport. Where would the NHL be without its Winter and Heritage Classics? Seeing your team compete in a different stadium really adds a new level of excitement to the game. Part of the intrigue about the Ilitch deal would be the joint arena that would undoubtedly follow. Having a joint arena would also create crossover fans who could benefit from deals between the two sports clubs. 

Beyond Detroit, this weekend in college football, two games will take center stage on some of baseball’s most cherished grounds. Wrigley Field and its tiny/friendly confines will host Illinois vs. Northwestern, while Yankee Stadium will match up Army vs. Notre Dame. WrigleyField and the original Yankee Stadium were once meccas of iconic NFL franchises and their confines wonderfully fit their multiple uses. In fact, the new Yankee Stadium is due to host a bowl game – the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in six weeks. The issue has been whether these stadiums are even safe for football play.

This argument is very similar to the differences between Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park. Tiger Stadium hosted the Lions for decades and the format fit the stadium to a good size. One look at the Wrigley Field endzones and there is concern that some players could be in danger with the ivy just six inches from the field of play. The use of a different layout and field goal posts behind the endzone have changed how stadiums need to be configured for these types of events.

Will games in alternative venues be a passing fad? Where would you like to see a local team play an upcoming game?