Friday, October 24, 2008

Big East Tournament staying put

The Big East announced Thursday that its conference tournament will be staying in Hartford at the XL Center through 2011 thanks to a two-year contract extension.

Various reports had linked the tournament to Mohegan Sun Arena as well as the possibility of seeking out other venues in-and-out of state.

Chuck Steedman, XL Center Senior Vice President and General Manager said the arena is working closely with the city, local businesses and organizations such as the state tourism board, to expand the entertainment and amenities surrounding the event.

“This is a demonstration from the region that we want to desperately to have what we consider the premier women’s college basketball tournament to remain in Hartford and beyond in the central Connecticut region,” Steedman said. “It really is a tremendous event, and we have one simple goal: That is to make absolutely certain…to provide a tremendous environment for the student-athletes, the coaches, the administrators and certainly our fans.”

You might recall that after UConn narrowly defeated Louisville at the tournament's championship game, Cardinals coach Jeff Walz complained how its unfair to play the game in Hartford every year, always giving UConn an advantage. he changed his tune somewhat.

“I know the league looked into different things,” he said. “We’re just told to play. It’s something we’ll continue to do and hopefully we’ll get a few more chances at playing in championship games.”

Also remember this will be the first year that all 16 teams will participate, which I think is fantastic. I'll tell you this much -- the year-end banquet hall barely held the teams that were playing and the media. Throw in everyone and I can't wait to see how this is handled.

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