ROSEMONT, Ill. — Not thrilled about D.C. and NYC? Then heads up, Omaha, Lincoln, Minneapolis, Des Moines: If you want a crack at hosting the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament, Jim Delany wants your bid.
And sooner rather than later.
“We’re a conference that goes from Colorado to the East Coast and encompasses great cities with great arenas,” the Big Ten Conference commissioner said as the league’s joint spring meetings wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon in suburban Chicago. “We started off with Chicago, exclusively, then we built to Indianapolis. Recently, we’ve gone to D.C., then we’re going to go to New York.
“I think that [if] Detroit and Minneapolis and other cities should aspire [to host], that it’ll be the decision of the universities and the athletic directors. You know we’re a conference that is blessed by great sports fans, great cities. And I can’t tell you that it will happen, but I would encourage interested parties to seek it.”
The Big Ten men’s tourney has never been played west of Chicago. But with the event wrapping up its first foray into Washington, D.C., and moving the 2018 tournament up a week in order to accommodate a marquee venue in New York City next February, Delany is open to moving the hoops tourney around — if host cities outside the Chicago-Indy beltway or Eastern seaboard can make a compelling enough case.
‘The football [championship game], I think, is pretty stable.’
— Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, on future championship sites
The 2019 and 2021 tourneys are returning to Chicago, while the 2020 and 2022 tournaments are slated for Indianapolis. Indy has hosted the event 10 times; the Windy City, nine.
Washington’s Verizon Center, site of the 2017 tourney, seats 20,356 for basketball. CenturyLink Center Omaha, which has hosted three NCAA men’s basketball tournament weekends, seats 18,320 for hoops.
“Obviously, by going to D.C. and New York City, [we’ve] demonstrated that we believe we’re a conference that’s got to serve a lot of different geographies,” the commissioner continued.
Just don’t expect those geographies to get a crack at hosting the football championship.
“There hasn’t been discussion about that,” Delany said of the annual December title game, an Indianapolis fixture since its inception in 2011. “We felt, since it was a new event for us, that we had to control some variables and that the variables are the centrality of location and the temperature of the location. We really didn’t think that it would be smart to try to grow an event in the snow. Maybe someday, but not this day.
“And so we haven’t had a lot of discussions about moving that out of Indianapolis. And I don’t want Indianapolis to mistake that for the fact that they shouldn’t be competitively engaged to [retain] that event, but you know, Indianapolis’ turn-key operation is really quite good at doing what they do. And we’ve been the beneficiaries of it. But the football [championship game], I think, is pretty stable.”