Monday, April 14, 2014

AAC Tournament Moving to Hartford for 2015

Win a national championship, get the conference tournament in your backyard.

The 2015 American Athletic Conference tournament will be held at the XL Center in Hartford.

“We are pleased to bring our 2015 men’s basketball championship to the city of Hartford and to this outstanding arena,” said AAC commish Mike Aresco. “The success of UConn’s men’s and women’s teams this year has made Connecticut the center of college basketball nationally. This event will enjoy tremendous fan support and our visitors will enjoy the many attractions in Hartford and its surrounding communities.”

Sounds like it's a one-year deal. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the tourney will be held in Orlando in 2016 and 2017. Aresco said an announcement about those years' sites will be made on Tuesday. There will also be announcements on the site of next year's women's tourney, as well as a bowl game, later this week.

Aresco said that moving to Hartford has no bearing on the women's tourney, which was held at Mohegan Sun this season and will likely be held there again next season.

“Today’s announcement puts Hartford back in the basketball tournament business,” said Governor of Connecticut Dannel P. Malloy. “While this is great news for next year, I am even more excited for what this means in the future. I believe we can and should be in consideration for more NCAA tournament events, and I will continue to push to bring those games to our state. I want to thank the American Athletic Conference for making this decision. I also want to send a message to college basketball fans everywhere – come to Hartford next March. You won’t be disappointed.”

“We're honored and proud to have been chosen to host this prestigious event,” said Global Spectrum's Chris Lawrence, General Manager of the XL Center. “Through the commitment and unified approach of Global Spectrum, the Capital Region Development Authority, the city of Hartford and the downtown business community, we're extremely excited and eager to showcase Hartford. Combined with our scheduled summer renovations and an ever-growing events calendar, the American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship will highlight a resurgent XL Center.”

The inaugural AAC tourney was held this past March at FedExForum in Memphis, and the league had a one-year option to remain at FedExForum for 2015. But the league has decided to move to Hartford instead.

Attendance at the inaugural tourney was solid but unspectacular, especially after UConn knocked out the home team in a first-round game. Louisville brought a decent amount of fans from not too far away, but, of course, the Cardinals will be in the ACC next season.

With the conference championships in Hartford, good crowds can be expected -- assuming UConn doesn't get bounced in the first round.

Memphis, which offered Beale Street, blues music, Graceland and several other interesting tourist attractions (not to mention a strong college basketball fan contingency) was a good choice for Year One. Hartford remains to be seen.

Here's what Kevin Ollie and Warde Manuel had to say:

Ollie:

“We are excited and proud that the American Athletic Conference has chosen the XL Center as the site for next season’s men’s championship tournament. It will give more of our great fans in Connecticut a chance to watch the intensity and competitiveness of postseason play. Last year’s tournament in Memphis brought together some of the top teams in the country and I know next year in Hartford will do the same. We want to keep Connecticut in the college basketball spotlight.”

Manuel:

“I am very excited that the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament is coming to Hartford in 2015. I want to congratulate Governor Dannel Malloy and the state of Connecticut, UConn alumnus Andy Bessette and the Connecticut Region Development Authority and Chris Lawrence and the staff at Global Spectrum for submitting an excellent proposal that resulted in the event coming to our capital city. We believe that our loyal UConn fans will once again fill the XL Center for our men’s and women’s basketball games in 2014-15 and that will continue during the 2015 American men’s tournament.”

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4 Comments:

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That announcement is a really good news. UConn fans will get benefited from this.

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