Not Your Average Sports Venue

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By Holden Walter-Warner

Wait, they played where?

From golf at the top of the globe to underground cricket, here are 10 of the world's most unusual and obscure places to hold a sporting event.

1. College Hoops on An Aircraft Carrier

When the Syracuse Orange took on the San Diego State Aztecs on November 11, 2012, the wind proved to be just as big of an opponent as the competition. The USS Midway was named after the eponymous battle during World War II and now serves as a museum and host to culturally significant events. Of course, there are pitfalls to hosting a basketball game on the deck of an Aircraft Carrier - the contest was postponed for two days due to the threat of rain.

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2. WHITE TURF Horse Racing in St. Moritz

Forget Churchill Downs - your new favorite horse racing venue is located in Lake St. Moritz in Switzerland. Beginning in 1907, the international elite descend upon the area every February to place wagers and watch one of the world's most majestic animals compete in the stunning yet challenging conditions. There are even events where the jockeys follow the horses on skis, rather than ride upon them.

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3. BEACH Rugby IN Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

World Rugby regulations state that a playing surface "should be grass but may also be sand, clay, snow or artificial grass”, provided it is safe to play on at all times. The beach at the Bin Majid Resort in Ras Al Khamiah proved to be just that, serving as RAK Rugby Club's home pitch during its opening season in the UAE Community League.  The club has since moved to a new home, swapping the sand for grass, but the pictures will live on forever

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4. Squash at NYC'S Grand Central Station

Squash is not a sport that requires a great amount of space, so a court can sometimes pop up where you'd least expect it - such as New York City's Grand Central Station. The majestic landmark train station plays host to the Tournament of Champions every January, designating a week for squash fans to enjoy and commuters to complain about.

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5. Ice Golf IN Uummannaq, Greenland

Greenland may not be as as green as its name suggests, but visitors can still tee off for a round of golf. However, instead of referring to the putting zone as "greens," they are known as "whites" for their snow-covered terrain, requiring players to use brightly colored golf balls. Predictably, conditions in the world's northernmost golf course can often be problematic - the holes can change location year to year and tournaments are often canceled due to poor weather and unplayable conditions.

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6. WNBA at Radio City Music Hall, NYC

Unlike some other leagues, the WNBA allows their players to compete in the Summer Olympics. This, however, came with a caveat in 2014 when Team USA had to face a team of WNBA All-Stars before departing for the Athens Games. To try out the venue at New York's famed theatre, the New York Liberty and Detroit Shock played in a game in front of just under 6,000 fans in attendance. The atmosphere was cozy, though a tad dark - a contrast to how the American women would perform later that summer in Greece.

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Football in a river may sound like something a few kids dreamed up while waiting for a rainy London day to pass. But in Bourton-on-the-Water, in England's Windrush, it's an annual privilege. This isn't your typical football match. Players try to pass and shoot in the water, while others just frolic around the river. The level of competition may pale in comparison to the Manchester Derby, but the fun is second to none.

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8. Cricket inside Honister Slate Mine, England

Some of these venues come with a certain amount of danger, but none may be more daunting than the Honister Slate Mine. Roughly 2,000 feet underground is where, in 2013, British village teams, Caldbeck and Threlkeld played in the the first-ever subterranean cricket match. Using slate as the bails and a mesh mat as the wicket, the unique match served as a vehicle to raise money for Threlkeld's flooded grounds.

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Before Roger Federer was at the peak of his tennis career, he was at the peak of the tennis world - or so it seemed when he and Andre Agassi engaged in some friendly hitting on the helipad of perhaps the world's most famous hotel. The makeshift court at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai sat 692 feet high, so diving for shots was not recommended. For thrill-seekers like Federer and Agassi, this was a treat. For their agents, this was an anxious nightmare.


10. Big Air at Boston's Fenway Park

David Ortiz blasted some deep home runs at Fenway Park during his farewell season in 2016. Perhaps he was inspired by the presence of the world's elite skiers and snowboarders a few months prior. Andri Ragettli was one of many who found big air while traveling through the Boston skies, reaching heights previously unseen in the ballpark due to the 140 foot high, 430 foot long jump, which required special construction to fit in Fenway. 

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UP NExt: Talking Smack

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Take a look at some of the best one-liners from the most notorious trash-talkers in sports history.