On Thursday, the Kentucky men’s basketball team announced a three-game series with Notre Dame. In December, the Cats will host the Irish at Rupp Arena before traveling to South Bend in 2022.
The interesting portion of the announcement was a neutral site game in 2021. In UK’s announcement, the program said that the location of this game is still TBD.
In fact, the only real amount of information given about that game was that it is being run by JMI Sports. With no real answers on where the game could be held, I have the five most likely options. These are by no means official, but I feel like they make the most sense for both programs.
Pros: To me, this makes by far the most sense. The Indiana city is located roughly halfway between South Bend and Lexington. Indianapolis was also the host of the Big Four Classic that ran from 1987-90. Kentucky played the Fighting Irish twice during the four year series with each team winning once. If both programs want the easiest option for fans to attend, Indy is a best-case scenario.
Cons: It is really hard to find a con within this. The only downside that could be found is the issues with scheduling.
New York City
Pros: If there is one thing we do know, John Calipari loves Madison Square Garden. He loves bringing his teams to the world’s most famous arena for the sheer opportunity to play at the same place as legends. New York City is also a great destination for Kentucky fans with plenty to do.
Cons: The 2021 Champions Classic will be held at MSG. Would Cal bring his team to the Big Apple twice in a single year?
Pros: Obviously the pros stand out easily for Kentucky. This is a place extremely close to home for fans of all kind to attend. In fact, Louisville has hosted 33 of the 62 overall games between the Irish and Cats.
Great to see UK-Notre Dame basketball series being revived for next 3 seasons, and hopefully beyond. It’d be neat if neutral site game is played in Louisville where series had a long successful run from 1960s to 1980s. No reason not to play at Yum Center. Kudos to @UKDeWaynePeevy pic.twitter.com/q6HzAKq44U
— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) May 28, 2020
Cons: Notre Dame might not be willing to jump on board with this right away. Even if they split tickets 50/50, it would still be a presumed massive Kentucky fan advantage.
Pros: Chicago is to Notre Dame what Louisville would be to Kentucky. A close destination city that their fan base could easily attend. For Kentucky, this would fit Calipari’s goal of having his team play in NBA arena’s in big cities.
Cons: This isn’t one of the easier places for the “average Kentucky fan” to attend. Sure, Chicago is a short day trip away but it isn’t a cheap place to visit. If the program wants to rid the feeling that they don’t care about the average fan, Chicago isn’t the most ideal option.
Pros: This again feels like one of Cal’s “destination locations.” This series screams to me something similar to the Arizona State one from a few years ago. Rupp Arena hosted one game with the other being hosted in the Bahamas. While it’s not the Bahamas, Miami could have a similar feeling. For Kentucky, the Heat connections continue to run deep and give Cal another chance to play in his NBA arena.
Cons: Again, this feels like another shot at the “average fan,” but to me, a trip to Miami in December does sound more enjoyable than Chicago/New York.
Overall, I am intrigued to see where this game in 2021 will be played. Other options could include Cincinnati or St. Louis, but to me, the above options are the most logical. Whatever happens, this is a good series for Cal and company to begin.