Try Navy-Marine Corps Classic again?

City lost nearly $736K on basketball game between Florida, Georgetown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Navy-Marine Corps Classic basketball game between Florida and Georgetown held on the USS Bataan in November was no slam dunk for the city of Jacksonville.

In fact, the city lost nearly $736,000.

Some say the event was a fiscal fiasco. It was supposed to be played on an aircraft carrier, but that was changed, so there was less seating. It was also supposed to be a full game, but it had to be called at halftime because of condensation on the court. So vendors made less money.

Jacksonville's sports and entertainment commission on Tuesday got full details of what went wrong and why money was spent without its approval to pull off what eventually took place.

The board made changes in some rules that could help in the future, but it also learned that the military is looking for a return engagement.

Is that really doable, and should the city try it again?

"I think there were so many positives about it," said Alan Verlander, head of the city's Sports and Entertainment Office. "I think with any event you do you learn a lot from it."

The city says the game was never intended as a money maker. Officials thought they would break even, but because of the weather, the fewer seats available and other issues, they had to dig into a trust fund to pay the bills.

"Certainly the goal was not to use our trust fund," Verlander said. "But at the same time, we are a military town, and you look at the economic impact of the military to the community, it's over $14 billion. So I think as a community, we do a good job honoring them. And I think any event that can honor them in a positive way -- and this basketball game did that -- we should consider.

The thought now is, the next game may be played somewhere else, like Veterans Memorial Arena, where sports officials say they know they can pull it off and still honor the military in an appropriate way.

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