First Carrier Basketball Arena Readied for Veterans Day

About 150 workers are building an arena capable of seating 7,000 spectators on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson for the inaugural Quicken Loans Carrier Classic basketball game.

This year's Veterans Day -– 11/11/11 –- will be marked by solemn ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and elsewhere across the country. One of the most unusual, and most watched, events that day will be a college basketball game on the deck of an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego.

About 150 workers have been busy since Nov. 1 assembling what the Navy reports is the first carrier basketball arena for the inaugural Quicken Loans Carrier Classic basketball game Nov. 11 between the Michigan State Spartans and the North Carolina Tar Heels, two of men's college basketball's most successful programs. The game will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. Pacific) on ESPN. Organizers say it was conceived as a way to show appreciation for active-duty service members and military veterans.

Construction of the 7,000-seat arena will take nine days using materials -- the floor, bleachers, lights, etc. -- brought from all over the United States. "There are thousands of moving parts that we're trying to fit together, between the Navy, the Morale Entertainment Foundation, the schools, and ESPN. The real challenge is seeing how all the parts will mesh," Jim Preston, a Morale Entertainment Foundation volunteer, said in a Navy online article about the event. "We have the right people for the job: people who have helped coordinate past Olympics and Super Bowl halftime shows. The end result is going to be something to see."

The workers will erect a backup arena in the ship's hangar bay for use in case of inclement weather.

The Department of Defense is the nation's largest employer with more than 1.4 million people on active duty and 718,000 civilian employees. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces, and more than 2 million military retirees and their family members receive benefits.

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