Pricey UF hoops season-opener


Florida head coach Billy Donovan on the sidelines during the second half against Arizona at the Stephen C. O' Connell Center Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.

If you are interested in going to the Florida men’s basketball season opener against Georgetown, start saving your money now.

The inaugural Navy/Marine Corps Classic, to be held on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of Jacksonville on Nov. 9, will be pricey. Sponsorship packages start at $1,000 for two tickets and other VIP packages will go for $2,500, $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000.

For that, fans will get two tickets to the Colts-Jaguars game Nov. 8 and other VIP extras. The sponsorship packages were created because of military regulations that don’t allow tickets to be sold on active bases. The purchase price also includes four tickets that will be donated to military personnel for the Colts-Jags game and four more for the Florida-Georgetown game.

Despite the high prices, Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment director Alan Verlander said he expects the sponsorship packages to sell out quickly. About 5,000 of the 8,000 seats will be available to the general public, with the rest going to military personnel and their families.

Verlander said he wasn’t surprised by the mixed fan reaction when the prices were announced.

“We expected that,” Verlander said. “I think the key is we have the 1-2 punch of an NFL game and a once-in-a-lifetime event on a very unique stage. Because we are not allowed to sell on a military base we had to find a partner (the Jaguars), and there’s very limited seating.”

Verlander said that he is in discussions with both Florida and Georgetown to set aside a select number of seats at a more affordable price for students. For Florida, the game falls on the same night as Gator Growl, its annual pregame football homecoming pep rally.

“I still think there will still be 100 or so Florida students interested in seeing a basketball game on an aircraft carrier,” Verlander said. “If you take a look at the Carrier Classic last year (between Michigan State and North Carolina in San Diego), the one thing it lacked was a student presence. We’d like to have that.”

In addition, Verlander said a fan fest and free pregame concert involving a “big-name” entertainer will be held at NAS Mayport before the game. Some of the VIP packages will include backstage passes to the concert.

Sponsorship packages go on sale July 16 and can be purchased at www.jaxsport.net or by contacting the City of Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Office at 904-630-3960.

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