This Saturday at the City Auditorium brings the first-ever Downtown Classic, a duet of men's and women's basketball games between the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Colorado State University-Pueblo. And while there's a variety of reasons to grab the $10 tickets (free for students and alumni; $5 for non-UCCS students with ID, seniors age 55 and older, military and children ages 7 to 18) here's five reasons our friendship is over if you don't go to at least one of — women tip-off at 5:30 p.m., men at 7:30 — the games:
1. You want to "think local"? Like the face-mashing match-ups between the hockey teams at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado College, it doesn't get much more regional than this. The two teams are some 50 miles apart, and, as the Gazette reported on Tuesday, are stacked with youth from area high schools. And hey, the whole thing's sponsored by Memorial Health System ... which, I guess, is kind of like the University of Colorado sponsoring itself ...
2. The Steel & Silver Series, as the multi-sport/academic rivalry is called — "Pueblo as a steel town and Colorado Springs as a hub for the hard-rock miners of Cripple Creek and Victor," reads a newsletter — has only been going since the '05-'06 season, so there's still time to jump on the bandwagon and say you've been hating either school since Pluto was a planet. And while it's not exactly at the level of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, there's still plenty of time for the bile to breed. After all, UCCS has swept the series so far, winning the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy every year.
3. All proceeds benefit the City Auditorium, the aging (but beautiful) relic of the '20s that serves as a reminder that not all buildings have to look like the wall-of-concrete courthouse across the street. How it wasn't destroyed in the '70s and replaced with a bank of parking meters is anybody's guess, but we still can't seem to find a way to pump money into it. Whether it's benefit concerts, or straight fundraising from its Friends, the Aud crumbles on. General estimates put the potential funds raised from the basketball game at around $16,000 so, especially with most students being home for the holidays, show up, be loud and hit 'em with cash.
4. Downtown is growing up, baby, and more events can only help, especially since we learned the USA Pro Challenge will pass us by next time around. (Bastards.) But don't believe me? Here's what our sister paper, the Colorado Springs Business Journal, has been reporting about the city's heart: “Enthusiasm about downtown is the best ... in many years.”; "Guadagnoli to add grill, walk-up window"; "Downtown advocates buy more property"; "Apartments planned for South Nevada Ave."; "Phantom Canyon expanding building, beer distribution"; and on, and on.
5. At 8-2, both women's teams are off to their best start in school history, putting them in a tie for a second in the NCAA's Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. It's only going to get better, too. "Colorado is a becoming a great Division II state, particularly in women’s hoops,” the Gazette quoted coach Corey Laster as saying in the above-linked story. “This is a great way to draw attention to our athletic department. There is a lot of talent in Colorado Springs and we are hoping to keep most of that here.” UCCS' men have faired a little worse, at 1-9, with CSU-Pueblo at 3-9.