The 5: Most unique venues Arizona sports teams have played at
It’s no luau. Sean Miller’s Arizona basketball team may be in Hawaii, but it begins the season with an immediate test against another top-15 club in 12th-ranked Michigan State.
Previous Armed Forced Classic games took place at military bases in Germany, Korea, Puerto Rico and Japan with less than 4,000 military members in attendance at each.
This time around, the atmosphere will be more similar to the everyday college basketball game. Rather than at a military installation, the game will take place at the Stan Sheriff Center, a 10,000-plus capacity arena where the University of Hawaii plays basketball.
Nonetheless, the unique backdrop of military personnel in the stands got us to wondering about the oddest places Arizona sports teams have played games. Here are five that stand out.
ASU women’s hoops at Chase Field
Arizona State’s women’s basketball team hosted Texas Tech for the Hoops for Health Classic in 2006. How did the Sun Devils take the healthy-living theme to the next level? The game was played outdoors, in an open-roofed Chase Field. Charli Turner Thorne’s squad rolled to a 61-45 win in front of a crowd of 7,791. It being Dec. 18, the tip-time temp was 56 degrees and the game was called with 4:18 left due to rain. And yes, a tarp was ready to cover the Phoenix Mercury’s court.
Six years earlier, Turner Thorne’s Sun Devils hosted Pat Summitt’s highly-rated Tennessee Lady Vols at the baseball venue, then known as Bank One Ballpark. The AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic took place two days after Christmas in 2000 and it was the first-ever outdoor NCAA women’s hoops game. A crowd of 16,782 watched the game in cool weather, with Tennessee holding on for a 67-63 win.
D-backs and Dodgers play on a cricket field
The Diamondbacks had the opportunity to open the 2014 season abroad. Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers played two regular-season games in Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Grounds, which held its first match in 1882 and has a capacity of 48,000. The venue hosted Australia’s first two MLB games, but the D-backs fell 3-1 and 7-5 with Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley respectively taking the losses.
Suns, Warriors volley on the tennis court
An outdoor, preseason game between the Suns and Warriors in October of 2009 saw mid-70s temperatures in a 104-101 Phoenix loss in Indian Wells, Calif., atop the tennis court home to the BNP Paribas Open. Most curious, looking back, was the context of the players in the game. Channing Frye led the Suns with 19 points, but Phoenix also got a look at a rookie Stephen Curry scoring 18 points. Curry, the seventh overall pick, was nearly acquired by the Suns in a trade — one that obviously never got done — centered around Amar’e Stoudemire just months earlier.
Mexico sets records to watch Cardinals-Niners
Until Jerry World in Arlington, Texas came around, it was Mexico that held the record attendance for a regular-season game. The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers squared off in a 2005 game at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium in front of a crowd of 103,467. Arizona beat San Francisco 31-14 behind quarterback Josh McCown’s 32-for-46 performance that led to 385 passing yards and two touchdowns. Anquan Boldin (116 yards on eight receptions) and Larry Fitzgerald (102 yards and seven catches) each scored a touchdown.
Suns and Jazz take Tokyo
The start to the 1990-91 season acted as a prelude to the Suns’ brief playoff run that year. Phoenix split its first two games with the Utah Jazz at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan for the first NBA games outside North America. Point guard Kevin Johnson scored 28 and 29 points in the outings, while Tom Chambers led the Suns with 38 points in the season opener. Back on home soil, the Suns would open the playoffs against John Stockton, Karl Malone and the Jazz, but fall in a 3-1 series loss.
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