In the end, there was no magic solution to combat Mother Nature.
The Carrier Classic, the unofficial tipoff to the college basketball season, will not return to the USS Yorktown this fall after its unsuccessful debut in Charleston last year.
Mac Burdette, executive director at Patriots Point, said Wednesday the event was scheduled to return to Charleston on Nov. 8, but the decision has been made to cancel plans for the basketball doubleheader.
Last year, condensation formed on the wooden playing surface constructed atop the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, forcing the cancellation of the men’s game between national powers Ohio State and Marquette. Officials for Morale Entertainment, the company promoting the event, said recently that they had solved the moisture problem and would bring the basketball games back to Charleston. But Burdette said he and the Patriots Point Board of Trustees decided not to take that risk.
“My grandfather had a saying, ‘You don’t learn anything from a second mule kick,’ ” Burdette said. “We got kicked by the mule the first time and we learned our lesson. We simply came to the realization that the risks for putting an event like this far outweighed the reward.”
Burdette didn’t rule out having a game on the Yorktown in the future if a major television network came on board and assumed most of the financial risk.
“If one of the networks or ESPN approached us we’d definitely consider it,” Burdette said. “You need that kind of muscle behind an event like this to make it worthwhile. We expended a great deal of man hours, logistical support and resources into the game last year and Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.”
One of the issues for Burdette was the timing of the event. The NCAA regulates when teams can open the basketball season, so the Veteran’s Day weekend is the only logical time to hold the event. But bumping up against college football and the NFL leaves little wiggle room.
“You’ve basically got to hold it on a Friday night,” Burdette said. “There are very few options. You can’t have it on Saturday or Sunday because of football. No one would pay attention to it. And if you get bad weather that night, as we found out, it’s not going to happen.”
Last year, the women’s matchup between Notre Dame and Ohio State went off without a hitch.
The panoramic TV shots of the sun setting over Charleston Harbor were iconic. Had the men’s game gone off in similar fashion, Burdette said another Carrier Classic would have been a no-brainer.
“The women’s game was everything we’d hoped it would be,” Burdette said. “We had some of the most scenic shots of the harbor during the game, but there are only so many things you can control and Mother Nature isn’t one of them. A change in the wind direction and the dew point was all it took for the men’s game to get cancelled.”
The men’s teams took the court for the second game, but it became apparent during wamups that condensation on the court wasn’t going to allow the two teams to play. Other Carrier Classic games in Jacksonville and San Diego experienced similar issues on the same night.
“We were not the only ones having the same problems,” Burdette said.