The USA Men’s Basketball Team just recently completed its preparations for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They played in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and Houston. While it is great for fans to get to see some of the world’s best basketball players, it would be better if Team USA was accessible to more fans around the country. USA Basketball has played exhibitions in some of the same venues before each of the last two or three big international basketball tournaments. Some of those cities that have repeated are New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. It would be so much cooler for fans everywhere if they played the games in some other cities. Here’s a short list of some possible venues.
Verizon Center – Washington DC
It should be mandatory that a team representing the nation play in the nation’s capital. The USA did play an exhibition against Brazil prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics in DC, but that’s it. The Verizon Center, with a capacity of 20,356, is a top quality arena home to the Washington Wizards of the NBA, the Washington Capitals of the NHL and the Georgetown Hoyas of the Big East.
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
While it’s technically not an NBA arena, the Yum! Center is one of the newest and best basketball arenas in the country, having opened in 2010. With a capacity of 22,090 it would surely fill up for a USA basketball game. The Yum! Center is home to the Louisville Cardinals of the ACC and has hosted NCAA Tournament games three times (2012, 2014, 2015) in addition to games at the NCAA Women’s Tournament (2013, 2014). Louisville is also a city that loves its basketball, frequently topping NCAA Tournament TV markets, and usually appearing in the top 10 NBA markets (despite not having an NBA team). Recent NBA pre-season games have drawn well there.
FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN
Memphis is another city that loves basketball and it’s hard to argue with the moniker “Hoop City.” FedEx Forum is credited with being among the first arenas in the NBA to use a see-through shot clock. Home to the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and the Memphis Tigers of the AAC, FedEx Forum has a capacity of 18,119, sits right off of World Famous Beale Street and has also played host to numerous conference tournaments (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014) as well as several NCAA Tournaments (2009, 2014). Memphis frequently ranks in the top 10 viewing markets for both the NCAA Tournament and the NBA Playoffs.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN
Perhaps no state in the country loves basketball more than the state of Indiana, so it would only be fitting for the USA to play a basketball game at the home of the Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. It has played host to the Champions Classic (a double header featuring Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke) as well as multiple Big Ten Tournaments.
There are a few more venues that would be good, perhaps Miami or San Antonio. Another thing that USA basketball could do would be to make all the games double headers, with one game being the USA Women’s team and the other game the Men’s team. The most important thing is to play games in new locations to get more fans on board.