A-10 to change venues of future men's hoops tournaments

Posted: September 05, 2014

A FEW years ago, the Atlantic 10 was really struggling, apparently about to get pushed into irrelevancy in a football-dominate landscape. Then, the league became very proactive in getting new members and made a giant comeback. The league got poached after a very successful 2012-13 season, losing historic members as the college athletic carousel continued to spin wildly.

All that went down last season was that America's best basketball-only conference had its greatest season if strength in numbers counts. A record six A-10 teams made the NCAA Tournament. All six won 24 or more games, something no other league could claim.

Now, the A-10 is hot again and in demand. Yesterday, it was announced that the conference tournament, which has been played in Brooklyn's Barclays Center the last two seasons and will be played there the next two seasons, will move to Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center in 2017 and Washington's Verizon Center in 2018 before returning to Barclays for 3 more years from 2019 to 2021.

It was announced last spring that the ACC Tournament would be played at Barclays in 2017 and 2018. For giving up dates it already had secured in Brooklyn, the A-10 brokered a 3-year scheduling deal with the ACC that will commence in December 2015 with doubleheaders involving teams from each league.

"This three-way partnership obviously created the opportunity for the A-10 to be able to move its championship around our footprint, which was something that was very appealing to us and go into different venues and different host cities for 2017 and 18," A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said.

The league got nine bids, but none from the Palestra or the Wells Fargo Center. Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, which hosted the tournament just before it went to Barclays, did make a bid.

"It was a very tough decision," McGlade said. "We had great bids from a lot of great cities and venues."

Consol is just up the street from the Duquesne campus and much closer than New York for the great fans from Dayton and St. Louis. George Washington, of course, is very close to the Verizon Center. George Mason is just across the river in Northern Virginia and the fans from Richmond and VCU obviously will be much closer when the tournament is held in Washington.

Verizon gets the ACC Tournament in 2016, the Big Ten Tournament in 2017 and the A-10 in 2018.

It was no coincidence that the A-10 will be staying in big cities.

"It's really important," McGlade said. "We have spent a lot of time, effort and energy on our strategic direction for the A-10 . . . Division I men's basketball is the No. 1 flagship top priority for the Atlantic 10. To be able to have our championship located in major metropolitan areas with high populations and demographics and also accessible to our constituents -fans, alumni, [player] families. It was all very important in our selection process."

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