Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thoughts On New Tournament Site

By now you know that the MAAC's post-season basketball tournament has been awarded to Springfield, Mass.'s MassMutuel Center for the three year block of 2012 through 2014.

Prior to that, the event will be played at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. this season and, then, at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., in 2011.

Some observations about the event's future in Springfield:

- Financially it makes sense. Sources have indicated that Springfield was able to secure considerably more corporate sponsors to help finance its bid than the Albany market, for instance, ever has. The result is that the Springfield bid has guaranteed a financial amount to the MAAC that's more than the conference reaped from the event last year even as overall attendance for the tournament was an all-time record.

- Here's a telling comment about the conference's intent for future tournaments, as made by league commissioner Rich Ensor at Wednesday's announcement of Springfield's successful bid:

"In reaching this decision the MAAC membership concluded it is time to take the championships to a neutral site arena. The MAAC has built the event to the level where the next step in its evolution is a neutral arena in a destination city."

If that is indeed the case, then this year's tournament will be the last time the Albany area will ever host the event. As Siena's home court, the Times Union Center is hardly a neutral arena. And, Albany isn't exactly a "destination" city.

Ditto for Bridgeport. It would appear that the next step to a destination city would mean the league would like to move the event to New York City, Boston, Baltimore or Philadelphia. Unless your blogger is having a brain camp, those appear to be the only "destination" cities proximitous to conference schools.

- The other side of that is that there is precedent for Albany stepping in if a host community/faciility seeks to rescind its commitment.

This 2009 event was scheduled to be played at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J. But when administrators of that venue asked to be released from that commitment for a variety of reasons, the tournament retured to Albany's TUC.

Clearly, deals to host the tournament aren't necessarily etched in stone, if you'll excuse the cliche.

If Springfield discovers its financial outlay doesn't justify the benefits, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Albany will again be a home for the MAAC's post-season tournament.

But, just don't expect it. The MAAC wanted to award a three-year block, in this case, to allow a community's acceptance of and interest in the tournament grow over the length of the contract.

This blogger most certainly hopes the MAAC's decision pays dividends. If a new venue and a new audience will benefit the conference, the residual effect iis that it also benefits its member institutions.

The MAAC has always had forward and innovative decision makers. Proof of that is how the league has progessed over its 29-year existence to become a very well-run, well-espected mid-major level conference.

And, that's the ultimate goal here ... for the MAAC to continue to get better.

1 comment:

Bryan Y. said...

I recommended and predicted earlier this year, on this and other MAAC blogs, that the conference tourney should and will eventually be played in NYC. This now proves me right, as Springfield will be the springboard for that.