Is there a Big East women’s basketball tournament in Louisville’s future? It is possible to pry the tournament loose from the Hartford, Conn. site where the tournament has been played since 2004?
Muffet McGraw, the Notre Dame coach who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last week in Knoxville, should have some insight into the issue. But she comes up a little short in her deductive reasoning:
Big East Conference officials are considering where the league’s women’s basketball tournament should be held. Hartford’s XL Center, which is considered to be a neutral site by the conference although Connecticut plays a number of home games there, has hosted the Big East women’s basketball tournament since 2004. Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut and Louisville’s new 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center, have been mentioned as alternate sites.
“We would really like to get out of Hartford,” McGraw said. “Connecticut would like to go somewhere else, too. We need to find the right venue, but we’re locked into Hartford for the next two years. We make the most money of any conference in the country in Hartford, and we get good support. Hartford’s been good to us. We need a place that will embrace us. A neutral site would be nice.”
Louisville should be a no-brainer, averaging 10,859 fans per game during its inaugural season in the KFC Yum! Center.
John Altavilla, a columnist for the Hartford Courant, not surprisingly wants to keep the tournament in Hartford. However, he acknowledges that the KFC Yum! Center is worthy of consideration:
Those who place the women’s tournament need to be respectful of many different factors that come into play. Hardly any of the givens that drive the men’s tournament apply to the women’s tournament. The conference knows fans will buy tickets in Hartford to games involving all Big East teams.
But would they in Chicago or Philadelphia or Tampa or Washington?
Perhaps they will in Louisville, and that is the place we might expect the tournament to eventually move, at least for alternating cycles with Hartford
Jeff Walz has built a solid program and now has a beautiful facility – the 22,000-seat KFC Yum Center – to show it off. And it is time for the conference to explore a new site and build a secondary base for its crown jewel.
The problem right now with Louisville is that the Yum Center is a home venue and the conference administrators are reluctant to give one program a decided advantage.
Of course, the ironic thing over all these years is that UConn, the team that needs it the least, has enjoyed an incredible advantage playing in Hartford, which technically is not considered its home floor because the Huskies don’t play enough games there this year.
To say Hartford is not a home floor for UConn is like saying people in Brooklyn don’t root for the Mets or the Yankees. Home is where the heart is.
We doubt there would be as many empty seats as there are in Hartford, no matter who’s on the court at the time. Want to make more money? Bring the tournament to Louisville.