The American Conference and Mohegan Sun Arena have agreed to an extension that will keep the conference’s women’s basketball tournament at the casino through 2020.
Mohegan Sun has been home to the tournament since the formation of the league in 2013. Since 2014, the tournament has averaged 30,334 fans over the four-day event, tops of all Division I women’s basketball tournaments in three of the last four seasons.
The arena has been a perfect home for the tournament, mostly because UConn’s dedicated fans can easily make the trip. The location has been lauded by many in the media, as fans can come and watch basketball while also visiting the many shops, restaurants and games the casino has to offer.
While Mohegan has been a rock for the women’s tournament, things have been much less stable on the men’s side.
In the four year history of the American, the men’s basketball tournament has been in three different cities, Memphis, Hartford and Orlando. Hartford hosted for a second time in 2017 and Orlando will play host once again in 2018 after hosting the 2016 tournament.
For a conference that prides itself on being in a number of major US markets, it shouldn’t be hard to nail down a permanent site for the men’s basketball tournament. A perfect location would be in New Orleans, with Tulane acting as host.
Permanently moving the tournament to this destination city would be great for everyone. New Orleans is a fun, vibrant place that would attract fans for the basketball, culture, and the nightlife.
Attendance at the men’s tournament has been low, but finding a permanent host would go a long way to improving it. When the city changes every year, fans need to find new places to stay, attractions to visit and places to eat—usually in a less-than-exciting city.
If the tournament was in New Orleans every year, there would be more familiarity, similar to the original Big East fans’ relationship with New York City.
The American Conference has been working hard recently to improve its men’s basketball with the addition of Wichita State as well as getting the semi-finals and finals of the tournament onto CBS. Now, it’s time for them to take it a step further and put the conference tournament into New Orleans.