Washington wants to play games at KeyArena, Gonzaga says series should be on campuses.
The most heated basketball rivalry in the Northwest might resume next season if Washington and Gonzaga can settle on where to play the games.
The Huskies want to play their cross-state rival in a three-year series at KeyArena while the Bulldogs want the games to be played on the two campuses.
“I have always been of the opinion this is a good game for both schools,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said in a statement released by the school Wednesday night. “At the same time, it is a series that should be equitable for both schools. I have always believed it is a game best played on the two campuses because of the great college basketball atmosphere in both campus venues.”
In an e-mail sent Tuesday to Gonzaga, Washington proposed the schools evenly divide ticket-sales revenue and ticket allotment for the 17,072-seat KeyArena, which is the new home of the Seattle University men’s basketball team and the former home of the departed Sonics.
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The games would be officiated by Pac-10 referees who commonly work WCC games, and the television rights would have to be negotiated between the conferences.
There are other potential hurdles.
The Zags are committed to a Battle in Seattle series at KeyArena. Last year they played Connecticut and this season they “host” Davidson on Dec. 12 in the seventh year of the series.
Gonzaga is playing home-and-home series against Washington State, Michigan State, Wake Forest and Illinois, with games at GU’s 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center and would favor a similar arrangement with Washington.
If the Bulldogs can’t get the Huskies to play in the raucous “Kennel,” then they’ll likely insist on an equal number of games in the series be played on the east side of the state, possibly at the 12,210-seat Spokane Arena, which is less than two miles from campus.
“This is the proposal that we’re interested in and I don’t see it changing in terms of any other sites,” said Richard Kilwien, UW’s associate athletic director of athletic communications. “Having it at the Key really benefits both schools in terms of fans and financially as well.”
Roth isn’t so sure.
“The renewal of this series is something that will be decided by the two athletic directors and the two head basketball coaches in private discussions,” he said.
The teams first met in 1910 and have played 43 times, with Washington holding a 29-14 lead. Between 1997 and 2006, they met each year, alternating between their campus arenas. The Zags won eight of the 10 games.
Washington discontinued the series following a 97-77 defeat in December 2006. Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said it’s time to renew the series.
“We’re excited,” Romar said in a news release. “Gonzaga is a great program. We think it is something that is going to work well for both programs. We’re ready to go.”
• Sophomore forward Darnell Gant returned to practice after suffering from flu symptoms. The Huskies still have four players who are out sick.