Middle Tennessee and Tennessee women’s basketball teams face off ahead of Auburn vs. UNC Asheville in the 2023 Rocket City Classic presented by Akima

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – College basketball returns to the Rocket City in a big way for the 2023-24 season at the Von Braun Center.

The VBC will welcome a top 25 matchup in women’s basketball as Middle Tennessee will take on Tennessee presented by Akima, on Dec.  6th.  Following the game, the Rocket City Classic presented by Akima takes center stage in Huntsville on Dec. 13th as Auburn returns to the VBC for the first time in 20 years to face UNC-Ashville.

“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 their fans back to the Von Braun Center and bring a top-notch women’s basketball game to Huntsville for the first time.”

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

“Akima is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Rocket City Classic and being part of the fabric of Huntsville,” said Bill Monet, President and CEO of Akima. “We are committed to supporting the communities where our employees live and work, and we look forward to two great games this fall that will 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 VBC resulted in 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, where we have some of the most loyal and passionate Auburn fans in the country,” Pearl said. “To partner with our friends at Nations of Coaches to make this event happen will enable them to invest more in young men through their character-building and faith-based programs.

“UNC Asheville has been one of the top mid-major programs in this part of the country, so it will be a good test for us. I am also excited to bring Denver Jones home as well as Chaney Johnson, who started his collegiate career at UAH.”

Propst Arena at the VBC will make its debut as a neutral site for women’s basketball when Middle Tennessee and Tennessee take the court. 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 last season, 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 can 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, the Von Braun Center, the Huntsville Sports Commission and Knight Eady. Nations of Coaches is a non-profit supporting 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 support 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.”

 In addition to two exciting games, new hospitality suites and courtside tickets will be available for both games. Tickets for the Rocket City Classic go on sale to the public on Aug. 16 on Ticketmaster and the Von Braun Center box office.  The matchup between Tennessee and Middle Tennessee will go on sale on Sept. 4 at 10 a.m., with tickets available for $20.

 “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 are excited to have these two neutral site games coming to the VBC this year and look forward to showing off our great community.”

For more, contact CVB Executive Vice President Charles Winters (256) 551-2235 or via email at