Finding the Oregon version of the "Carrier Classic"
In lieu of playing basketball on boats again, The I-5 Corridor offers some suggestions for unique playing fields in the Pacific Northwest.
In the spirit of insanity, Gonzaga and Michigan State have agreed to reprise the spectacle of playing a college basketball game on an aircraft carrier. The Bulldogs and Spartans will meet on the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego this fall for the first game on floating military property since the “Carrier Classic” series a decade ago. And if you remember correctly, you’ll recall sloppy and, in some cases, canceled basketball games due to the humidity creating condensation on the court.
But hey, in a built for TV world, who cares about the playing conditions?
We don’t, which is why we here at The I-5 Corridor have created our own list of potential “Classic” destinations here in Oregon.
We begin by heading south.
1. The Crater Lake Classic
The NHL’s Winter Classic has mostly taken to iconic football and baseball stadiums since its debut in 2008. But last year the NHL did something a little different: It took the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, and stuck them on a constructed outdoor rink along the shores of Lake Tahoe. Like the Carrier Classic, the actual gameplay was terrible, with the sun melting enough of the ice to postpone games until dark. But it looked incredible.
You know what else would look incredible? The same thing, but on Wizard Island in the middle of Crater Lake. Sure, it would likely take a bunch of controversial clearcutting of one of America’s most beautiful parks, but those fines are nothing a sponsorship by STIHL chainsaws wouldn’t cover.
2. The annual Nike/Adidas Bowl
One of the oddest things I’ve ever seen in Portland: A few years ago I was driving up Greeley by the Adidas campus and did a double take when I saw a purple five-story banner with the heading: “Calling All Huskies.” The footwear giant had just snatched Washington away from Nike, signing the Oregon rival to a 10-year, $119 million deal. Then those Three-Stripe lifers decided the best way to celebrate was by unfurling an ad for Washington right in the heart of Ducks country.
But the apparel rivalry isn’t just Oregon and Washington, and since both Adidas and Nike have their North American headquarters here in Portland, it only seems right that each year the two should pit one of their football programs up against the other’s.
But where would they play? Nike has room on campus. Adidas does not. To split the difference, we’ll call on Under Armor to host the games on its neutral South Portland campus, with premium seating in the trams traveling to the OHSU campus above.
3. The Dairy Game
For 70 years, Alpenrose Dairy was a fixture of baseball and softball in Portland. The fields on the dairy’s Southwest Portland property were an institution here, so much so that they served as the home for the Little League Softball World Series for 26 years. But the fields have sat silent since the dairy sold in 2019.
I have my doubts as to whether Portland will get a Major League Baseball team any time in the near future, but piggybacking off the success of last year’s Field of Dreams game in Iowa, I certainly think Portland could pitch a farmyard brawl, complete with milk-filled Gatorade jugs and the freshest burgers in the league.
4. Places where a basketball court would be cool:
A three-on-three game in the middle of the Bridge of the Gods.
Taking a cue from their own court, an Oregon Ducks game literally deep in the woods somewhere.
5. An F1 race along old Highway 30.
Sure, it would be terrible racing. The racing is terrible in Monaco, too. Plus, the TV producers would love the helicopter shots they get as the cars zip by the Vista House overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.
6. A new Hayward tradition
Look, the new Hayward field has a lot of seats. And through the first two years of its existence, a lot of those seats have been left unfilled. The solution to recoup any financial losses would be to fill the Oregon campus with the annual sound of NASCAR races roaring through town. You thought Prefontaine was fast down the back stretch? He’d be no match for the 750 horses of the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
7. A fence on Multnomah Falls
The world fencing championships begin on Friday in Cairo, Egypt. The event hasn’t been held in the United States since 2004 in New York. The playing field for fencing is called a Piste, which is required to be 46 feet long and about six feet wide.
Do you know what is 52 feet long and 5.8 feet wide? The Benson Bridge spanning the gap of Multnomah Falls.
— Tyson Alger
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