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Mayor announces Rocket City Classic collegiate basketball

Published on August 9, 2023

Auburn returns to Huntsville in the 2023 Rocket City Classic presented by Akima

College basketball returns to The Rocket City and in a big way for the 2023-24 season at the Von Braun Center.

The Rocket City Classic presented by Akima will take place on Dec. 13 when Auburn takes on NCAA Tournament participant UNC-Asheville. It will be the Tigers first game in Huntsville in 20 years.  Women’s basketball will come to the forefront as well with a battle of top 25 teams as Middle Tennessee takes on perennial national power Tennessee on Dec. 6.

“We are proud to see Huntsville continue its growth as a sports destination and bring two major college basketball games to the Von Braun Center this season,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.  “Thanks to Akima for their tremendous support, we welcome Auburn and all of their fans back to the Von Braun Center and bring a top-notch women’s basketball game to Huntsville for the first time.”

A leader in the defense industry, Akima has increased its presence in Huntsville with a recent acquisition of Pinnacle.  Their increased presence aligns with the growth of Huntsville and continues their commitment to delivering superior outcomes for their customers.

“On behalf of our team at Akima is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Rocket City Classic and being part of the fabric of Huntsville,” said Bill Monet, CEO of Akima.  “Our growth in Huntsville mirrors that of the city and we look forward to two great games this fall that showcase the best of the Rocket City.”

Auburn is coming off a season that saw the Tigers advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, compiling a 21-13 record under Bruce Pearl.  The last time Auburn played at the Von Braun Center was a 105-56 win over Grambling on Nov. 29, 2003.

“I am excited to bring our team to participate in the Rocket City Classic and engage with the Auburn family throughout north Alabama,” Pearl said.  “To partner with our friends at Nations of Coaches to make this event happen will enable them to invest more in the young men through their character-building programs.”

Rocket City Classic – Dec. 13, Propst Arena 

Middle Tennessee to host Tennessee in women’s basketball at the Von Braun Center

Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center will be making its debut as a neutral site for women’s basketball when Middle Tennessee and Tennessee take the court on Dec. 6.  The Blue Raiders racked up a 28-5 record en route to the Conference USA Championship and the NCAA Tournament.  The legendary Lady Vols posted a 25-12 record and went 13-3 in SEC play, advancing to the SEC Tournament title game and the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“With the Conference USA Tournament in Huntsville this year, we wanted to introduce our fans to this great city and thanks to Tennessee, we are able to create a terrific showcase for women’s basketball,” said Chris Massaro, Director of Athletics at MTSU.

The Rocket City Classic came together through a partnership with Nations of Coaches, the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Huntsville Sports Commission.  Nations of Coaches is a non-profit that supports college basketball coaches and student-athletes with character-building programs that focus on them as a person who plays basketball, not just a basketball player.

“We are always looking for opportunities to elevate our mission and increase our support to do more for the student-athletes and thanks to our friends in Huntsville we are able to make this dream a reality,” said Tommy Kyle, Executive Director of Nations of Coaches.  “We look forward to this being just the start of something special that allows us to pour more resources into building the next generation of leaders.”

Fans will also have some new seating basketball seating options for the games as 16 sideline suites will be available for both games, as well as courtside seats that put your feet on the court.  Tickets for the Rocket City Classic go on sale to the public on Aug. 16 on Ticketmaster or the Von Braun Center box office.

“Thanks to our friends at Akima for their support and Nations of Coaches for their vision, we are able to elevate Huntsville as a basketball destination,” said Joel Lamp, Sports Manager for the Huntsville/Madison County CVB.  “We think some of these new fan experience opportunities will be very popular and give the Auburn fans a chance to cheer on their Tigers here in their backyard.”

For more, contact CVB Executive Vice President Charles Winters 256-551-2235 or email cwinters@huntsville.org.