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February 25, 2014

Arizona 'considering' hoops in football stadium

Well, New Mexico basketball head coach Craig Neal got one part of the equation right Monday night.

On his weekly coaches show, Neal mentioned "talks" between the program and Arizona playing a basketball game at the 56,000-seat football stadium down the street from McKale Center in 2015, and then returning the game as part of a home-and-home the following year. Reports out of New Mexico said Neal wasn't sure if the deal would get done.

Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne did not return an email from GOAZCATS.com later in the evening, but he did send out a statement via Twitter on Tuesday morning.

It will not be you, New Mexico.

Byrne said the idea is "preliminary" and that he was "surprised [Neal] took it upon himself" to speak on the matter.

"If it happens it will be w/ another team," Byrne wrote.

But Byrne was open to the idea of pulling off a similar event. More and more, football stadiums are playing host to high-profile basketball games. The Final Four in April will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. Ford Field in Detroit played host to the event in 2009.

But those also were played in domes. In 2011, North Carolina defeated Michigan State outdoors on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the Carrier Classic in San Diego.

While Byrne shot down the idea for now, such a promotion - with the right program - could attract a national TV audience and a boost in publicity. That, of course, means dollars.

The Wildcats routinely sellout McKale Center, playing in front of 14,545 fans and establishing one of the better home courts in the West.

"Something we are considering because of the passion of our fan base," Byrne wrote.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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