SBD/March 11, 2014/Events and Attractions

CAA Tournament Attendance Disappoints, But Entertaining Finish Could Pay Off Next Year

While the CAA men's basketball tournament did not draw big crowds during its first year at Baltimore Arena, conference officials "hope that the final scene" from Delaware's one-point win over William & Mary "will be replayed and endure in the minds" of local residents, according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. CAA officials "want those final images to help sell the tournament when it returns to Baltimore next season." CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said, "We’d love to have big crowds, but there isn’t any criticism. It takes time to build it." The venue, which "holds about 11,000 for basketball," had an announced crowd of 5,414 last night for the championship game, while the four-day tournament drew 19,065. The conference "has a three-year deal with Baltimore and will begin considering whether to extend the arrangement after next year’s tournament." It also "hopes to sign a title sponsor" for next season (Baltimore SUN, 3/11). Yeager said that he had hoped attendance "would be higher," but he added that this was "a learning year as the event moved north" after 24 years in Richmond. Yeager said that the tourney was not "at half capacity for any of the previously played four sessions." In Baltimore, Ryan McDonald noted the '12 event in Richmond "drew a total crowd of 47,833, with an average of 7,972 fans each session." Reasons for lower attendance could be that this year's event "did not have as many sessions as in the past," and that officials "are still working on getting the word out" about the new location (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/10).

PAC'D HOUSE: Sunday's Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament title game drew a crowd of 4,785 at KeyArena for the USC-Oregon State matchup, marking the "second-highest total in the tournament’s 13-year history" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/10). In Seattle, Jayda Evans reported attendance for the opening two days was "down 2,505 fans" from the tourney's first year at the facility in '13. But the total figure of 13,881 fans for a combined eight games split between four sessions is "nearly double the average total attendance for all nine games when the event was held at Staples Center" from '09-12. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that Seattle will be "evaluated within the year to decide any possible contract extensions." He said the parameters are not financial because the tournaments are "an investment" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/9).

NOT QUITE A PERFECT 10: Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said that the conference is "encouraged but not entirely satisfied in the aftermath of the first of three A-10 women’s basketball tournaments scheduled to take place" at Richmond Coliseum. She said that "inauspicious attendance -- 1,843 for Saturday’s semifinals and only 1,415 for Sunday’s championship game -- suggests that much work remains to be done between now and next March." But in Richmond, Vic Dorr Jr. notes A-10 coaches "seem entirely satisfied." Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley said the event was "so well run" and she was "really impressed" by the venue (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/11).

QUEEN CITY KEEPER: Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said the CIAA Tournament brings a $30-40M "annual economic impact to our local economy, but it also brings visibility to Charlotte." Barnes said the recent six year agreement to keep the tournament in the city "keeps us viable as a city that can host large events." Charlotte Business Journal's Erik Spanberg said the tourney is "a major gathering with a predominantly African-American audience," which "brings a different flavor to the city and it's a good thing." Spanberg: "When you look over the history of this event being here, very, very few problems. It's been very well run, security has been good" ("Flashpoint," WCNC-NBC, 3/9).
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