Carrier Classic collapse: Jacksonville event reportedly cost city $736,000

Sailors and guests watch pregame ceremonies before the Nov. 9, 2012, Florida-Georgetown basketball game on the Amphibious Assault Ship Bataan at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The game never reached the second half, but you wouldn’t know it from the reported price tag. (USA Today Sports photo by Rob Foldy)

The men’s college basketball season ends tonight. The two-year experiment of playing college basketball on warships may have ended over the weekend.

A report published Saturday by The Florida Times-Union outlines how a mixture of unexpected insurance costs, the downsizing of the proposed host ship from a carrier to an amphib and the on-court condensation that canceled the game at halftime contributed to a $736,000 loss for the city of Jacksonville in staging the Navy/Marine Corps Classic at Naval Station Mayport, an game that was supposed to benefit military charities.

In the report, Alan Verlander, Jacksonville’s executive director of sports and entertainment, took “full responsibility” for the cost overruns, unpaid vendors and other disasters attached to losing nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to stage 20 minutes of basketball aboard the amphibious assault ship Bataan. It was a different tone than a few days prior, when, contacted by Navy Times about plans for a future flattop game at Mayport, he said Jacksonville had put together “several options” to “hopefully continue the Navy/Marine Corps Classic.”

Nobody in Jacksonville or with the Navy has ruled out a game in 2013, but in the current budget climate — or any budget climate — it seems unlikely that such a box-office performance would warrant a sequel, even if, as Verlander claims in the Times-Union piece, there were many “lessons learned.”

A quick recap: Of the three men’s games played on flattops last season, only one went the full 40 minutes — and that one was delayed two days by weather, saw every surrounding event attached to it collapse, and had enough in-game problems to make a return engagement unlikely. The game set for the decommissioned aircraft carrier Yorktown in South Carolina never got started because of moisture on the court; organizers recently announced they have no plan to host a game in 2013.

No other groups or carriers have announced plans for a ’13 game. Well, there’s always hockey.