Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Springfield New Site for Tournament?

The MAAC has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday in Springfield, Mass., which almost certainly means the MASSMutual Center has been chosen to host the league's basketball tournaments from 2012 to 2014.

While your blogger writes for the MAAC, league officials do not consult yours truly for advice or insight.

If they had, I probably would have suggested giving the three-year block to Albany, N.Y.'s Times Union Center.

Why does the Springfield facility make sense?

It truly is a neutral site.

It's located in the city where the sport was invented, and the Basketball Hall of Fame is one of the finest Halls anywhere. The strong guess here is that the athletes will be treated to tours of that facility during their stay in Springfield.

It isn't an inconvenient location. Compared to Albany, it's a slightly easier trip there for Fairfield, the New York City-area teams (Iona/Manhattan/Saint Peter's), Rider and Loyola. It's about the same for Marist.

Obviously, it's an inconvenience for Siena's supports who now will be on the road for a two-hour trip there, rather than a short drive to downtown Albany.

And, it adds miles and time for the western New York schools. It's all of 385 miles from downtown Buffalo to downtown Springfield, and more than a 400-mile trip for Niagara.


Two big ones: No home team, which means no guaranteed large crowds for the "home" team's games; and, no developed audience for the league.

My guess is that it's a rare Springfield resident/basketball fan who has witnessed a MAAC game in person in the past.

As someone who actually was employed in that city for a brief period ... its college basketball interest leans strongly toward the Atlantic 10 (UMass is close), the Big East (UConn) and the ACC (Boston College). The city also aligns itself closer to mid-major level Boston-area programs (Boston University, Northeastern and Holy Cross, among others) than it does to any MAAC school.

My personal concern is whether attendance figures for the MAAC tournament will be closer to the all-time low turnouts for the event than the record crowds that turned out in Albany for this past season's event.

Then again, there's probably a very good reason why this blogger isn't on the MAAC's advisory committee.

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