Bleachers will rise on each end of the nearly 900-foot-long aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point in November, and players from three prominent colleges will play basketball on a special floor laid out on the flight deck.
But few, if any, members of the general public will be able to buy a ticket to sit in the stands and watch the Carrier Classic charity event on Nov. 9.
Organizers said Tuesday most of the estimated 4,000 seats will go to the participating colleges, veterans and active-duty military members, the Wounded Warrior Project and sponsors of the event, who have yet to be named.
“The actual availability to buy tickets by the general public will be minimal,” said organizer Mike Whalen of Morale Entertainment Foundation.
The doubleheader will feature the Ohio State women taking on last season’s national runner-up Notre Dame and the Ohio State men playing Marquette.
The actual number of seats has not been determined because the event still needs approval from the State Fire Marshal’s office and the town of Mount Pleasant, Whalen said.
He estimates about 500 tickets will be available for sponsors after the free tickets are handed out, and those tickets probably will cost about $500 each.
The event has not lined up a TV network yet to air the Carrier Classic on the World War II-era vessel moored on the edge of Charleston Harbor, but Whalen hopes to have more details by Sept. 1.
He estimates the event will cost between $2 million and $3 million to put on and hopes to raise enough money from sponsors to offset the cost and donate leftover proceeds to three military-related charities.
They are the Wounded Warrior Project, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Medal of Honor Society. The Medal of Honor Museum occupies a small space on the Yorktown, but there are plans to build a dazzling new $100 million facility on a 12-acre parcel owned by Patriots Point.
Preliminary plans call for the basketball court to be laid out over the width of the ship with one basket near the control tower and the other on the ship’s harbor side, according to George Moore with Morale Entertainment Group. The stands will flank both sides of the court from either end of the ship, he said.
Originally, the court was laid out length-wise with grandstands near the control tower and over an aircraft elevator, but they abandoned the plan because the elevator hasn’t been used in decades and would have required testing to see if it could hold the weight, Moore said.
Aircraft now parked on the flight deck will be moved to either end of the ship, Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette said.
Whalen said preparations for the tournament with seats, scoreboard and flooring will begin on Oct. 31, and they should not be as difficult as last year’s inaugural event on board the active aircraft carrier Carl Vinson near San Diego.
“This year it’s going to be easier because we don’t have to worry about the ship going anywhere on active duty,” he said.
Whalen hopes to make it an annual event at Patriots Point through 2014. “We expect to have a long-term relationship with the Yorktown,” he added.
Burdette welcomed that bit of news. “Nothing would please me more than for it to be multi-year because that would mean this one is successful,” he said.
Last year’s event drew President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Whalen said they have been invited this year, too.
Patriots Point’s only involvement in the event is that it is leasing the facility to Morale Entertainment for about $4,000 a day, Burdette said.
Morale Entertainment is responsible for tickets, setup and every other aspect of the event.
In case of rain, the event has lined up McAlister Field House at The Citadel and perhaps a surprise second site. “We might have something up our sleeve for here,” he said of the Yorktown without elaborating.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
(L to R) Mike Whalen, founder and director of Morale Entertainment Foundation, talks with Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette, after announcing plans for the upcoming Carrier Classic basketball doubleheader on the flight deck of the Yorktown at Patriots Point. (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 8/7/12×
Mike Whalen, founder and director of Morale Entertainment Foundation, announces plans for the upcoming Carrier Classic basketball doubleheader on the flight deck of the Yorktown at Patriots Point. (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 8/7/12×