Sports

The 2023 college football bowl season has arrived which means we’ll see top matchups in unique settings.

Similar to last year, there will be four bowl games held in baseball stadiums: Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks), Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox), Petco Park (San Diego Padres) and Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees).

The Kansas Jayhawks and UNLV Rebels will play at Chase Field in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. Petco Park will host the DIRECTV Holiday Bowl between the No. 15 Louisville Cardinals and USC Trojans.

The Wasabi Fenway Bowl at Fenway Park is between the No. 24 SMU Mustangs and the Boston College Eagles. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Miami Hurricanes will face off at Yankee Stadium in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl.

Bowl games in unique locations is nothing out of the ordinary, but they don’t happen often in other sports. Here’s a look at events that took place in an unusual venue:

College football

The Tennessee Volunteers and Virginia Tech Hokies matchup in 2016 took place at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Josh Dobbs and the Volunteers dominated for a 45-27 victory in a game nicknamed the “Battle at Bristol.” The game broke the record for the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game, with 156,990 fans in attendance.


NBA

From 2008 to 2010, the NBA held preseason games at the Indian Wells tennis court in California. The Phoenix Suns played three straight preseason matchups there, debuting the venue against the Denver Nuggets.

Weather always seemed to be a factor during the games. The first matchup was marred by winds, while the finale had 90 degree temperatures. Stephen Curry played in the 2009 edition as a rookie in a game the Golden State Warriors won 104-101.


College volleyball

A sea of red in Nebraska

On Aug. 30, the University of Nebraska hosted Omaha at Memorial Stadium, with 92,003 fans in attendance. This obliterated the prior record for an NCAA volleyball match (18,755). It also set a new record for attendance at a women’s sports event (previously held by a Champions League match in Barcelona).

“It’s incredible. I don’t have enough words to describe it,” Nebraska middle blocker Andi Jackson told ESPN’s Michael Voepel. “We were walking out of the tunnel after the second set, and we heard on the speaker we had just broken the world record. Everyone was trying to stay locked in, but we were also so excited. I can’t describe how grateful I am to be a part of it.”

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Nebraska volleyball sets record with over 92,000 fans in attendance

Nebraska volleyball fills the football stadium with 92,003 fans to set a record for largest crowd at a women’s sporting event.


WNBA

Liberty Outdoor Classic

Months before the Suns played at Indian Wells, the WNBA hosted a regular season game at another tennis stadium — Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York City. The Indiana Fever defeated the New York Liberty 71-55 at the 23,771-seater.


Hoops at Radio City

While Madison Square Garden hosted the 2004 Republican National Convention, the Liberty played six games at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Fans could watch only one side of the court, but it is remembered as one of the more interesting setups.


Tennis

Federer and Agassi reach new heights

Tennis went to another level in 2005 with Roger Federer and Andre Agassi playing on a helipad in Dubai. Federer and Agassi hit for 20 minutes on the Burj Al Arab hotel helipad, which is almost 700 feet above sea level.


Rallying on water

To promote a 2011 tennis tournament in Qatar, Federer and Rafael Nadal hit tennis balls on a court floating on water. Though it wasn’t an official match, Federer and Nadal could only perform volleys with the water at ankle level.


College basketball

Carrier Classic

In 2011, the Michigan State Spartans faced the North Carolina Tar Heels on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego. President Barack Obama attended the game, sitting courtside and meeting with Tom Izzo and Roy Williams after the Tar Heels won 67-55.


USS Abraham Lincoln game

Michigan State returned to another aircraft carrier in 2022, playing against the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the San Diego Bay. It was played 11 years to the day of the original Carrier Classic, and included a crowd of mostly sailors from the carrier. The Bulldogs defeated the Spartans 64-63.


Crossover at Kinnick

In October, the Iowa Hawkeyes faced the DePaul Blue Demons at Kinnick Stadium in a historic game. Home to the Hawkeyes football team, a basketball court was placed near the endzone on one side of the field.

Iowa and Caitlin Clark defeated DePaul in front of 55,646 fans, a new women’s college basketball attendance record.


NHL

Lake Tahoe Doubleheader

There may not be a professional league that utilizes unique venues as much as the NHL, which has the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic and Stadium Series. In February 2021, the NHL held back-to-back games across two days next to Lake Tahoe in California.

The first game with the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche had an eight-hour delay between the first and second period due to poor ice conditions from the sunshine. The start time of the second game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins was pushed hours ahead to avoid any issues with the ice.


A game at Caesar’s Palace… kinda

In 1991, the NHL held a preseason game between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers in the parking lot of Caesars Palace.

Temperatures reached 85 degrees, nearing a game cancellation as the ice began to melt when the tarp was removed. But it was salvaged by Zamboni work and the Kings won 5-2 in a game that featured Wayne Gretzky.


Prison game

The first ever NHL outdoor game took place on Groundhog Day in 1954 at an unlikely spot — Marquette Branch Prison, a maximum security facility in Michigan, between the Detroit Red Wings and inmates.

Red Wings general manager Jack Adams and forward Ted Lindsay visited the prison months before on a promotional trip. The warden asked Adams if he’d bring the Red Wings to play in the prison yard. Adams did some more visiting and talking back and forth, according to Lindsay, before agreeing to play the game months later.

It wasn’t much of a contest — by the end of the first period, Detroit had an 18-0 lead. At the end of the game, the Red Wings were awarded a “honey bucket,” which serves as a toilet in prison.


MLB

Field of Dreams

The first edition of the “Field of Dreams” game in August 2021 lived up to all the hype.

Held on a ballpark near the famous set of the 1989 film, the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees 9-8 after a walk off home run. Actor Kevin Costner led the players out on the field after walking through a cornfield.

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