College basketball's most distinct and unusual regular-season event for next season will take place on a professional baseball field in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin will play Stanford in men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 11, sources told CBS Sports. On the women's side, Wisconsin will face Kansas State. The doubleheader is being billed as the "Aurora Health Care Brew City Battle," according to a source, and the game will be held at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Television partners and exact game times have not yet been finalized, sources said. Sports marketing firm Intersport, which also runs the CBS Sports Classic each December, is organizing the event.
As men's college basketball continues to add nonconference multi-team events, it's become harder to organize something that stands out from the cram of November mini tournaments. This would certainly qualify. Having two power-conference teams play in the friendly-but-abnormal confines of a baseball park will catch some attention. American Family Field has a retractable roof, and given this will be Milwaukee in November, the game will be climate-controlled and played fully indoors.
That wasn't the case in 2015, when the idea of playing a basketball game at a professional baseball stadium was last pulled off. Nearly seven years ago San Diego State played San Diego at the Padres' home venue, Petco Park, in a one-off billed as the "Bill Walton Basketball Festival." Now there's a twinbill in basketball coming to Brew City in November. "Let's play two" is an old baseball axiom, but it'll apply to hoops on the diamond on Nov. 11.
This year's event could potentially set the stage for future big-tent one-offs in future seasons. It's a throwback to when the Astrodome (Houston), Metrodome (Minneapolis) and Kingdome (Seattle) previously hosted standalone college basketball games. The 1999 Final Four was held at Tampa's Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, though all those former sites were indoors-only. Milwaukee's venue is indoor/outdoor. This big-stage event is also a quasi-callback to when teams played the occasional game in football stadiums and aircraft carriers, which came into vogue in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The concepts were abandoned amid the growing popularity of more multi-team events in warm locales in the past decade.
One source said the court setup will be so the hardwood is laid out across the infield, and that the design will have center court approximately where the pitchers mound is. Auxiliary/temporary seating will be brought in and positioned around second base. More court-level seats around the field are also expected to be sold. A source said tickets will go on sale to the public in the final week of July.
As for the men's teams involved: Wisconsin is coming off a 2021-22 season in which it won a share of the regular season Big Ten title and was a 3-seed in the men's NCAA Tournament. Greg Gard's group will be among the more intriguing in that league, given the loss of All-American Johnny Davis. Stanford is in a critical season under Jerod Haase, who will have last season's Pac-12 freshman of the year, Harrison Ingram, back in uniform. Pac-12 and Big Ten institutions have often been aligned in college sports ventures, and this becomes the latest example.